Printable 3D Ear
An area of interest for any living beings is 3D bio-printing. Cornell doctors and engineers built a lifelike artificial ear made of living cells using 3D printing technologies! Please take the time to review their published paper. Kids born with underdeveloped outer ears from congenital defects like microtia now have an opportunity to have an ear created from the tissues of their own bodies versus an artificial ear created from synthetic materials.
First, they create a 3D version of the ear. Then, using a 3D printer they create a plastic mold of the ear and fill it with a Jell-O thick collagen gel. In the meantime, there is a petri dish filled with cartilage cells reproducing. These cells are then added to the mold and eventually replace the collagen. The best part is that the patient does not have to wait until all the collagen is replaced before skin is added and surgically attached.
So far the artificial ears have been attached to the backs of rats and cow cells were used instead of human tissue. It only took 3 months for all the collagen to be replaced. The best part is that the mold retained its shape. There are obvious obstacles to overcome before we can cheer the first successful human implant, but imagine if we can recreate the dying organ for a patient using their own tissue. The implementation of 3-D technology is another layer that facilitates the replacement of an ineffective organ and extends our life expectancy using our own living cells.Experimentation and exploration with 3D printing techniques and technologies have been accelerating drastically since before President Obama mentioned 3D printing during his state of the union address. We are still a long way from seeing how far we can go with this upcoming technology. The process is two-folds; what kinds of materials can we use and can we build something big enough to execute our ideas? The neatest part of this revolution is the different substances used to create objects and the different fields it is affecting.
Whether it’s building a house in a day, turning your thoughts into physical 3D objects, converting digital audio files into 3D-printable records, or a solar powered device that instantly melts sand from the desert to create 3D objects out of glass it is apparent that additive manufacturing may be the push to increase manufacturing opportunities to the US.
Image courtesy of PLOS ONE/Reiffel et. al. open access articles.Tweet