How to print an ear

No, that was not a typo, or me being cutesy pie. I  just saw a news segment on ABC TV here in Australia about a breakthrough technology that can literally print living tissue.

The technology is based on the concept of 3D  printing that has been around for a few years now [not quite cheap enough for domestic use unfortunately].

The principle behind ordinary 3D printers is to  build up a three dimensional shape using very fine layers. You can create amazing objects with intricate shapes on the inside by leaving blank spaces in each layer. The process is obviously very complex, and designing the layers is even harder…  and that’s just for something like a cup or a mug.

Have a look at how living tissue is created.  Yesterday, this was still sci-fi. Today it’s the shape of things to come.

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3618385.htm

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

34 responses to “How to print an ear

  • metan

    Are you listening to 774 this morning? They are doing talkback about 3D printers right now!

    Like

    • acflory

      Damn no. 😦 I’ve been on a writing streak the whole day. I must say though that 3D printers seem to be all over the media at the moment.

      Did you see that segment last night where they showed this young, 25 year old guy in the US who invented a design for making a plastic gun using his 3D printer? The gun works and security is up in arms because of course plastic cannot be detected by any of the airport security currently available.

      I don’t think I’ll do much travelling until I can afford my own Lear Jet. 😀

      Like

      • metan

        They were printing a ball bearing while they were talking. It was interesting, although I didn’t learn anything new.
        They did talk about the gun and he said that he had printed one up and tested if it would be detected by airport security. He said the shape was detected but (obviously) it made it through the metal detector. He also said that he took his ($700 eeeee!) printer on planes as carry-on luggage and questioned if that meant someone could lock themselves in the toilet and print a gun during a long haul flight.

        Like

  • Candy Korman

    I so want the ears (and kidney’s and bone marrow, etc. ) to be made on these printers but… read this at your peril… Making guns is easier.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/gun_is_lock_upload_mcSF4lQ6cpR47ekeRNDLYP

    Like

  • Ilil Arbel

    The Force, Magick, Technology, Science — they are neutral. They are neither good nor evil. Some people will turn it into good, some into evil. We cannot change this law.

    Like

  • Ilil Arbel

    Twenty years ago, did any of you think about reading Jane Austen on an e-reader? A laptop where you can watch movies and TV programs? I am still in awe of word processing… the 3D printing is here and now and soon it will be much cheaper and the competition will decide the price and we will be so used to it as to not bat an eyelash. I am no longer impressed with gadgets, to be honest, but the idea of what it can do for medicine makes me happy. Growing a new kidney instead of spending years on the horrible machines. Cornea for someone who needs to see? Heart valves? This would be a joy.

    Like

    • acflory

      All those wonderful things are what I see too when I look at this technology. I really, really want one. And I really, really want the benefits that may come in the future. I just hope it doesn’t become subverted in some way.

      Like

  • EllaDee

    Science for good, I like it 🙂 Everyone one of us could become designer-manufacturers, never again having to purchase one-size-fits-all, creating a completely bespoke EllaDee world, and recreating the old & worn out – a favourite pair of shoes, much loved but too holey jeans…

    Like

    • acflory

      Yes, yes and YES! This will be the newest wave of the consumer revolution that started with… ebooks? I think we’re in for a fight before some of the best benefits are made public but I hope I’m around to join that fight!

      Like

  • Carrie Rubin

    Hmm, nothing like printing parts of the human body. I can think of some that should never see replication…

    Like

  • lorddavidprosserDavid

    Amazing technology. We’re getting so close to the day when we’ll be able to live to 200 or more with replaced parts. Mind you, the first time someone does a 3D copy of a sprout I’m going to start bombing the labs.

    Like

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    I know of a man who has a new trachea – grown from his own stem cells harvested from his bone marrow. Science and technology can do amazing things when they work together.

    Like

    • acflory

      You said it Yvonne. The next 50 years will see amazing changes to how we live. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get replacement parts and live to be 110? 120?

      Like

  • acflory

    @ Metan. Sorry, the replies were getting thin! Yes the medium will be the expensive part. I imagine the ‘base’ might be standard but how many other bits would you need to buy? It could end up being like the most expensive, complicated recipe you’ve ever cooked. Actually no, by the time we get to that point I’m sure they will have figured out a way to streamline the whole process. Hmm… but how I wonder…

    Like

  • laurieboris@earthlink.net

    I saw something about this on a US program…fascinating!

    Like

  • Candy Korman

    I saw a 3-D printer working at a museum in Florence. It was amazing. I’ve been following this story in the U.S. There is, of course, a scary downside. In additional to making parts to keep machines running, one could make guns — even high capacity machine guns… Yup. Scary. Of course I LOVE the idea of making a replacement ear, or tailoring exact medical treatments. Science marches on — and so do the bad guys.

    Like

    • acflory

      Yeah, every single technological innovation seems to come with a downside. I still love the idea of 3D printing though. And even if you could make your own gun it would take a while, and maybe by the time it was finished you wouldn’t feel like killing anyone any more.

      Like

  • metan

    The kids and I had a huge conversation about the possibilities of 3D printing just the other day, printing body parts was one thing we didn’t think of!
    We did see this article on the news tonight and they were pretty excited at those new ideas. I expect that it will just renew their efforts to convince me to buy the one of the printers for them to have a play with!

    Like

    • acflory

      lmao – I want one too! Tell the kids if I win tatts I’ll buy one and they can come help me play with it. 😉

      Like

      • metan

        They’ll be beating the door down if I tell them that! I bet we will all have one in a few years time. There will be online shops where we can download the program to make anything we want.
        I need a new…. just a moment, I’ll print one up.

        Number 2 had a friend over the other day and the boys were explaining a 3D printer to her. She didn’t believe it could exist! I showed her a youtube clip of one in operation and she was amazed, I hope she saw that news article tonight. 🙂

        Like

        • acflory

          The possibilities are endless. And the ramifications will be huge. Imagine if you owned a 3D printer, and could buy any template you wanted, you could print your own gun, machete, samurai sword, that little black dress. So what happens to the retailers? And what happens to gun control?

          And it goes further too. If you had a 3D printer your Doctor could prescribe a medication exactly formulated to your age, sex, height, weight, metabolism etc and then you could just print it off instead of buying a ‘one-size-fits-all’ drug from a pharmaceutical company.

          By then all those companies will have jumped on the new tech and changed the way they operate in order to keep making money but still… life will be very different to what we have now. 😀

          Like

          • metan

            Imagine the market for the print medium. That will be the new pricing battleground. Vitamin medium, just change the colouring and flavouring additive and print yourself up some broccoli or a cauli for dinner.
            We probably can’t even imagine what turns this new tech will take.

            Like

          • acflory

            Meh… apparently you can now timeout on WP replies so I’d better make reply mark 2 fast. Just found a domestic 3D printer online for less than $1700. And it was the first one I clicked on. I’m dumbfounded!

            Like

          • metan

            Shhhh… If you say that too loudly the kids will hear. Not that I have $1700 to spare but the whinging, oh! the whinging! 🙂
            Looking forward to the post about your new toy. 😉

            Like

          • acflory

            -grin- Oh I wish! Sadly it’s in the I WANT basket, not the I NEED one. -sigh- maybe one day…

            Like

          • metan

            Get a Tatts ticket! It’s our only hope 🙂

            Like

          • acflory

            I know! I know… it’s just… I never ever win! Not even little dribbly wins. 😦

            Like

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