At NextFab Studio, we have our fair share of printers — large-format photo, large-format vinyl, a 3D printer that uses plastic, and a 3D printer that uses powder and adhesive. We do not, however, have an inkjet printer that can print human skin cells (Don’t worry, it’s on the list, along with a submarine and moon launch pad).
According to this article in Scientific American, a team of researchers at Wake Forest University has created a “bioprinter” that uses cells instead of ink — all with a regular, off-the-shelf printhead. Besides being absolutely fascinating (and just a bit horror/sci-fi — can you imagine if Frankenstein could have just been printed instead of built? Or duplexed?), it has significant real-world use. Burn victims can use printed skin instead of skin grafts, and it has implications for repairing scar tissue. Researchers are also using the printer to create bone tissue and even a mouse heart, although these applications aren’t fully functional yet.
Posted by Katherine