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Life-Saving Technologies Within the Medical Field
By: Juan Enriquez
With the many advancements in technology that we have today, progression
in the medical field can really shape the future of medicine. Advancements in
stem cell research, cell cloning, and robotics all benefit the development of
modern practice medicine, but there is one technology that has shown and
still has a huge potential. This technology is 3D printing and by extension 3D
bioprinting and as we continue to advance it, there really is no limit as to what
we can achieve.
WHAT IS 3D PRINTING?
“3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three
dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object
is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is
created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is
created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-
section of the eventual object” (3Dprinting.com).
BENEFITS OF 3D BIOPRINTING
Although 3D printing is considered wasteful and useless because of the
products it creates – i.e. figurines, random knick knacks and potentially
dangerous objects – the potential of 3D bioprinting is the advancement of
science in medicine. Research into tissue replication or replacement and the
creation of things like organs or even blood vessels really proves how huge of
a potential these products have on both the scientific community and those in
need of transplants.
ROBOHAND: A GLIMPSE INTO 3D
“Robohand creates 3D printed and
aluminium CNC machined, anatomically
driven, custom fitted, functional mechanical
devices to help limb different individuals as an
alternative to standard prosthetics With the
advances in technology. Robohand turned to
3D printing as a cost effective, quick way of
prototyping. When Robohand discovered the
potential of 3D printing and the endless
possibilities, we recreated the first aluminum
hand in 3D print” (About Robohand,2015).
3D PRINTING: A MEDICAL REVOLUTION
SUMMARY OF VIDEO
• Ability to create a 3D printed hand.
• Can create custom made hands that can last the lifespan of an adult but
has the capability to allow children to use this type of 3D printed items as
they can continue to print them as the child grows. This is a main reason as
to why children very rarely have prosthetics because they are expensive to
begin with and cannot be reused as the child grows.
• Created an ear out of collagen jelly that can one day be used if 3D printed
blood vessels are also created.
• Limited only to your imagination.
(3D- Printing: A Medical Revolution, 2013)
CONS OF 3D BIOPRINTING
cost of the
Can a life-saving idea such as printing a heart for a patient to save their life,
turn into a mass manufacturing industry where one can essentially pay for
immortality? Further on that, if we can begin to create and utilize 3d printed
organs or limbs, human lifespan could potentially increase, and as the science
evolves, so will our lifespan. Many argue that printing organs may simply lead
to counterfeit products which can result in many injuries or even fatalities. “The
issue of quality control also exists. So far, there are no measures in place
to legally ensure that bioprinted organs are of excellent condition. This lack of
regulation could lead to the exploitation of unknowing patrons in the creation
of unhealthy or low quality body parts.”(3D Bioprinting). This can also lead to
who is liable if such a product should fail? Whenever you are dealing with a
technology that has the capacity to create or save lives, there are always
parties ready to exploit innovations, and prevent incredible breakthroughs.
PROS OF 3D BIOPRINTING
Less prone to
PROSTHETICS VS 3D BIOPRINTING
(Dealing with Different, 2013)
• From robotic prosthetics all the way down to blood vessels,
3D bioprinting has grown exponentially and is nearly a 2
billion dollar industry. (Collins)
• “In 2013, researchers at Heriot-Watt University 3D printed an
arrangement of human embryonic stem cells.” (3D
• What used to take a 3D printer weeks to go through and
process and finally print, now only takes a matter of hours.
• Taking a step further into prosthetics, there are companies
that are working on full body exoskeletons and succeeding
in allowing people with spinal cord injuries to be able to
• “L'Oréal, the largest cosmetic company in the world, signed
a deal in 2013 with 3D bioprinting company Organovo to
explore the use of 3D bioprinting for cosmetic safety testing,
specifically skin care products” (3D Printing Report).
(3D Printing Report)
• Working alongside research being done in the repurposing of stem cells to
become cells that we can either no longer create or have been destroyed,
(ie: spinal cord nerve cells in paraplegic patients), 3D bioprinting can assist in
the replication of these cells as well as maintain a cost effective product that
is durable enough and safe enough to be used within the medical field.
• Further research into robotics can also lead to the ability to create a printer
that has the capacity to directly print skin right on burn or trauma victims (3D
• The ability to create organs from the hosts cells and have a “reduced
possibility of organ rejection” (3D Printing Report) when dealing with
transplants, which in turn also significantly reduces wait times on organ
THE FUTURE OF 3D BIOPRINTING
Scientists have very high hopes and a great
deal of ground-breaking innovations that
can be used within the technology of 3d
printing. This has allowed them to be able to
create ideas to build custom made organs.
This image is of a 3d printed heart. “Doctors
have been scanning and 3D printing plastic
models of patients’ hearts, allowing them to
see its defects before going in for actual
surgery” (3d Bioprinting). There are high
hopes for the future of 3d printing, and the
expectation is that within 30 years, clinicians
will be able to actually 3d bioprint human
kidneys or livers for use (3D Printing Report).
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
With modern medicine, we need to make sure that we follow the same morals
and ethics that we do when we are dealing with controversial research but at
the same time realize that some technologies can truly benefit us as a species.
To be able to have the potential to save the lives of those waiting for
replacement organs or give the ability to walk to those who cannot is really
ground-breaking. Technologies like this should be viewed as an opportunity
and as a privilege by the scientific community. We have the ability to change
people’s lives forever and that is something that we must use technology for,
to further better our lives.
3-D printing: A medical revolution [Motion picture]. (2013).
3D Bioprinting. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/gsse2014b2/home
3D Printing Report Read more at: Http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/3d-bioprinting-2014-2024-applications-markets-players-
000387.asp. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/3d-bioprinting-2014-2024-applications-markets-
About Robohand. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.robohand.net/about/
Collins, S. Will 3-D Printing Revolutionize Medicine? Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/news/breaking-news/20140723/3d-printing
Groopman, J. (2014, November 24). PRINT THYSELF. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/print-thyself
The Future is Here: 3D Printed Prosthetics. (2013). Retrieved from http://dealingwithdifferent.com/3d-printing-prosthetics/
What is 3D printing? (2015). Retrieved from http://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/#whatitis