Tag Archives: NPR

Cornell Professor Develops Technique for 3D Printing a Human Ear

Cornell Prof 3D Prints Human Ear

3D printing organs and stem cells is currently being researched and may become a reality someday. What about 3D printing an ear using material to synthesize human cartilage?

Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University, has been working to solve this problem by developing a “living ink” that can be used to 3D print the cartilage for a human ear. His research was published in the journal PLoS One and featured on NPR.

“The ear is really remarkable from a mechanical perspective,” says Lawrence Bonassar, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University who has been working with a group to develop a better replacement ear.

To make the ear, Bonassar and his colleagues scanned the ears of his twin daughters, who were 5 at the time. They used a 3-D printer to build a plastic mold based on the scan. Those printers, similar to a home inkjet, lately have also been adapted to experiment with making chocolate, guns, and even kidneys.

They then injected a soup of collagen, living cartilage cells, and culture medium. The soup congeals “like Jell-O,” Bonassar tells Shots. “All this happens quickly. You inject the mold, and in 15 minutes you have an ear ready to go.”

Well, not exactly. What they have is an ear-shaped chunk of cells that would have to be tucked under the skin on the side of the head by a plastic surgeon before it could become an ear.

To test whether their ear-mold would become living, useful ear cartilage, the researchers implanted samples under the skin on the back of laboratory rats. In three months, cartilage cells took over the collagen, making for a solid-yet-flexible chunk of cartilage that retained its precise shape and size.

Bonassar thinks this technology can be used in humans in 5 years, with any luck.

3D Printing Human Ear

Below is a video featuring this amazing research.



Via NPR.

Top 3D Printing Headlines Last Week: Retail, Stem Cells, Piracy, NPR

Lunar Base 3D Printing

A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from February 5 to February 10:

Tuesday, February 5

Wednesday, February 6

NPR Discusses 3D Printed Guns on Morning Edition

3D Printing Automatic Weapons Guns

As we have covered before, the national gun debate is raising alarms about how 3D printing can be used to create guns. It is not actually possible to 3D print a whole gun, but you can print parts of a gun, including the part regulated by the government called the lower receiver

During Morning Edition on NPR today, Reporter Eric Molinsky provided an update on the controversy.

You may have heard about 3D printing, a technological phenomenon that uses a robotic arm to build objects one layer at a time. As people get imaginative and create items in a one-stop-shop fashion, one more creation has been added to the printing line: gun parts.

It would be easy to conceive the idea that 3D printers are churning out cheap handguns, but there’s a kink in the process. If you were to print an entire gun out of plastic, it wouldn’t work. The bullet should shatter the plastic.


Via NPR.


Top 3D Printing Headlines Last Week: Filabot, Guns, CES, Nokia 3DK

Crayon Creatures Process

A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from January 5 to January 20.

Saturday, January 5

Monday, January 7

Sunday, January 13

Monday, January 14

Stephen Colbert 3D Printed Bust

Friday, January 18

NPR Calls 3D Printing “Miraculous” in All Things Considered Feature

20120720-DSTL UNR 3D Printing

NPR correspondent Zoe Chace filed a special report on All Things Considered about 3D printing. She interviews Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen, industry analyst Terry Wohlers, and author Chris Anderson.

This is the latest report from NPR. Back in June, they also discussed 3D printing.

Zoe Chace takes through what 3D printing can do, and calls it “miraculous”. In a matter of hours, you can print “stuff”, from shoes to bracelets to iPhone cases. She continues to say that it’s easy to see how 3D printing could have a radical impact on the economy.

Peter Weijmarshausen helps us understand what Shapeways’ role is in the 3D printing industry. Terry Wohlers talks about what 3D printing might replace, and what it won’t. Chris Anderson discusses how 3D printing will lead to the democratization of manufacturing.



You can listen to the full radio program or read the transcript below.

The first key to thinking about 3-D printers is this: Do not think printer. Think magic box that creates any object you can imagine.

In the box, razor-thin layers of powdered material (acrylic, nylon, silver, whatever) pile one on top of the other, and then, voila — you’ve got a shoe, or a cup, or a ring, or an iPhone case.

It’s miraculous to see. Press a button, make anything you want. But just how important is 3-D printing? Unlike earlier big-deal technologies (like, say, the tractor) 3-D printing won’t really replace what came before.

“If you’re producing trash cans or stadium seats, you’ll more than likely produce them the old way,” says analyst Terry Wohlers.

And for consumers, the economist Tyler Cowen points out, it’s still way easier to order something from Amazon than print it yourself — and that’s how people will buy things for the foreseeable future.

Still, 3D printing is amazingly powerful for personalized applications.

Right now, there are 30,000 people walking around with 3D printed titanium hips, which are less expensive than conventionally manufactured artificial hips.

Boosters of 3D printing dream of a day when printers can make new body parts. More prosaically, they talk about a day when every shirt, every dress, every pair of pants can be custom printed to perfectly fit each person.

Another thing to keep in mind about 3D printing: It democratizes who gets to be in the manufacturing business. You don’t need a giant factory and million-dollar machines. You just need $500 and a garage.


Via NPR.

3D printing photo by DSTL UNR used under Creative Commons license.