Tag Archives: organs

When Will We See 3D Printers Make Their Way Into Our Homes?

3D printing has hype and controversy, but what about adoption?

This is a guest post by UK-based Laser Lines Ltd, whose bio is at the end of the article.

Earlier this year it was announced that Maplin Electronics would be the first UK retailer to stock a home 3D printer. With all the hype and controversy surrounding this technology, it’s left many wondering if 3D printers will be the next big gadget to make their way into every home.

3D printing is the process of printing layers of material, usually plastic, on-top of one another to build up a 3D object. The Velleman K8200, which retails at £700, allows customers to 3D print any object they want from the comfort of their home, from a chess piece to mobile phone case. The plastics come in red, black, white, orange, green, yellow and pink, costing £30 for 1kg of the resin. Certainly an interesting addition to any home office but isn’t this a rather expensive way of reproducing items that would ordinarily cost just a few pounds?

The idea of everyday consumers being able to access 3D printers has already caused controversy in the US following the announcement of printable handgun blueprints online. The handgun, which would have been made from plastic if successfully produced in this way, could have gone undetected by standard security scanner.

3D Printed Gun Liberator

Another widespread concern about 3D printers in the home is the likelihood of copyright infringement through the reproduction of products. Users would potentially be able to produce a 3D scan of a product and then using this scan blueprint re-create the object precisely at home.

Outside of the home however, 3D printing technology has been having far greater success. Manufacturers are able to benefit from quick prototype production, enabling sketched concepts to be swiftly tried and tested. The aerospace industry has already started producing fully functional parts via 3D print technology too, with NASA known for their frequent use of the procedure to make lightweight engine and shuttle parts. 3D printing has the potential to completely transform production supply chains, particularly when it comes to producing small parts that would have usually been shipped from one manufacturer to another.

NASA Space 3D Printing

There are incredible medical implications of this printing process too. Professionals believe that, ultimately, 3D printers could be produced to print living materials in place of plastics. Layering cells alongside a medical scaffolding substance called hydrogel, it should be possible to print the basis of human organs such as a liver or kidney, before leaving them to grown into the fully formed structure. Soon it will also be possible to print sophisticated human tissue specifically for pharmaceutical testing – which means risk free clinical testing and trials (though again a hugely controversial idea).

Organovo Pink Sheets Secondary 3D Printing

In conclusion, perhaps 3D printers will see their way into the homes of those who can afford such a novelty, but for the time being the real advantages will be found in manufacturing on professional scale machines. Even then 3D printing has a long way to go before it’s embraced by everyone.

About the author: This article is written by UK-based Laser Lines Ltd, a bespoke 3D printing company that have been providing 3D printing solutions for over 20 years. Visit their website to browse through their collection.

Laser Lines Ltd 3D Printing

Related articles:

Top 9 Medical Applications for 3D Printing – Epic List

3D Printing Medical Heart The Body Shop

How 3D Printing is Changing the Face of the Medical Industry

The list of medical applications for 3D printing was originally compiled by the team at 3D model marketplace CGTrader and has been edited for publication here.

Recently 3D printing has been a hot mainstream trend, but there are thousands of people who are still not aware of this mind-blowing technology. Obviously, 3D printing is being carefully watched by scientists, designers, futurists, and hobbyists. No doubt, it will change our lives; 3D printing is already reshaping them. In the long run, 3D printing may have the most impact in the medical field, where extrusion of living cells instead of plastic material in a 3D printer has led to bioprinting.

Here is a completely mind-blowing list of the top 9 ways 3D printing has already changed all the branches of the medicine and what to expect in the future. Moreover, this article touches upon a controversial topic of artificial organs. Keep reading!

1. 3D Printed Hearing Aids

3D Printing Medical Hearing Aids

Thousands of people do not realize that they have already become a part of 3D printing revolution by simply wearing hearing aids.

98% of hearing aids (more than 10 million) are 3D printed today. Hearing aid manufacturing began to adopt 3D printing technology in 1998 and it has been a significant improvement to manufacturing. The process has been shortened to 3 steps: scanning, modeling, and printing. One machine is able to produce 30 hearing aids in one hour and a half.

More coverage:

2. Digital Dentistry Brings 3D Printing Into the Dental Office

3D Printing Medical Dentistry

3D printing’s contribution to the dental industry has been game-changing. Scientist Andrew Daewood, who works in London’s Wimpole Street, notices that before the 3D printing has become the mainstream, “dentists have been using it for 10 years, to make things that really can’t be made in any other way.”

3D printing helps to improve quality and speeds up the production. Technology enables the customer to get a transparent 3D printed teeth aligner for day-to-day use, on one’s way to the dentist 3D printer is already printing out a new dental implant as well as dental crowns, bridges, stone models and a variety of orthodontic appliances.

More coverage:

3. 3D Printing Body Parts and Bone

3D Printing Medical Skull Replacement

Earlier this year, an American patient received a radical surgery in which 75% of his skull was replaced with a 3D printed implant. This material was not only biocompatible but also a bone-like. Scott DeFelice, President and CEO of Oxford Performance Materials, announced that his company has serious plans that between 300 to 500 patients in the U.S. alone could have skull replacement surgeries each month.

Last year an 83-year old woman has received the very first titanium jaw implant manufactured with 3D printer.

3D Printing Medical Splint

In another story, a 3D printed biopolymer of windpipe was surgically sewn as a splint to open a baby’s airways. After 2 to 3 years it will be fully absorbed in the body.

More coverage:

4. The Miracles of Prosthetics: 3D Printed Face and Children Hands

3D Printing Medical Prosthetics

Injuries and disease can cause debilitating health conditions for people, to the point where a prosthetic limb or other body part is necessary to maintain quality of life.Thanks to 3D printing, prosthetics have become easier to customize and produce. Here are three particularly inspiring cases.

Eric Moger was the first person to start a life once again with 3D printed face.

3D Printing Medical Face

A famous Robohand project has proved that anything is possible. The idea was a goal to reach by Richard Van As from South Africa and he finally come up with the concept how to produce necessary hand prosthesis quickly, quite cheaply, and make it accessible to the wide society.

3D Printing Medical Robohand

Meet Buttercup, the first and only bird that has 3D printed leg prosthesis.

Thanks to 3D printing and devoted designers, Buttercup has experienced the freedom of walking for the first time. Moreover, this duck is the worldwide superstar, that got an award for honours. Just creepy amazing.

Get Rid of Itchy and Stinky Plaster Casts

3D Printing Medical Casts

Were you jealous of kids who broke an arm but then got all their friends to sign their cast? With 3D printing technology, the traditional plaster cast is being replaced by a light, breathable, washable and recyclable design. And, of course, stylish.

In the U.S., a bone fracture occurs every 5 seconds. Enter the Cortex Exoskeleton cast designed by Jake Evill, a graduate from the Architecture and Design School in New Zealand. With a 3D scan, the cast can be 3D printed onsite at the emergency room.

More coverage:

5. 3D Printing and Growing a Bionic Ear

3D Printing Medical Bionic Ear

When researchers from Princeton and John Hopkins get together, expect something big. In this case, a team of researchers developed a bionic, artificial ear. With the help of 3D printing, the team created a skeletal structure which is seeded with cartilage cells, and 10 weeks later, you have a fully formed ear!

More coverage:


6. 3D Printing Stem Cells Paves the Way to Artificial Organs

3D Printing Medical Stem Cells

3D printing enabled a group of Heriot Watt University scientists to produce clusters of embryonic stem cells. The scientists used the method of valve-based printing in order to keep these cells in high level of viability, to stay accurate to produce spheroids of uniform size and to maintain their pluripotency that addresses to differentiation into any other cell type.

3D Printing Medical Stem Cells

In the picture above you can see aggregated embryonic stem cells after 24 hours (left) and after 48 hours (right). Artificial organs are still in the near future, but this achievement is extremely significant for drug testing purposes while using artificial human tissue or even printing cells directly inside the body.

3D Printing Medical Cartilage Scaffolds

More coverage:


7. 3D Printing Endless Blood Vessels Threads

3D Printing Medical Blood Vessels

Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany developed a technique to 3D print artificial biological molecules to form the shape of blood vessels. This technology is still quite imprecise for the fine structures of capillary vessels, so the scientists use the laser to zap the molecules and to form the material.

3D Printing Medical Blood Vessels

In other findings, UPenn and MIT researchers found sugar as the best agent to 3D print blood vessels without any seams.

More coverage:


8. New Skin, Courtesy of 3D Printing

3D Printing Medical Skin

Skin graft transplantation is nothing new in the medicine, but now 3D printing technology is enabling scientists to produce artificial skin. Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a method of loading skin cells and various polymers into 3D printer to create thick layers of skin.

In other research, scientists from the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina aim to print skin directly onto burn wounds. Professor James Yoo and his team were highly inspired to develop a portable bioprinting system to help address injuries in the battlefield, where around 30% of injuries involve skin damage.

More coverage:


9. 3D Printed Organs: A Fiction or The Great Achievement of The Next Decade?

3D Printing Medical Kidney

18 people die everyday in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. Some researchers have embarked on a bold goal of 3D printing artificial organs.

In one example, surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrated an early-stage experiment at a 2011 TED Talk, where he printed a prototype human kidney.

In other research, Wake Forest Institute For Regeneration works on more than 30 different replacement tissues and organs, including bladder, cartilage, trachea and heart healing therapies. Using similar technology to Atala, a young patient received an engineered bladder transplant, the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human.

The world’s first artificial liver is already on its way. A team at Heriot Watt University led by Dr. Will Shu are running experiments with this goal in mind, again using 3D printing in the manufacturing process.

3D Printing Medical Liver

Finally, San Diego-based Organovo team has already managed to create micro-livers that are half a millimeter deep and and 4 millimeters wide. The researchers used a gel to build three types of liver cells and arranged them into the same kind of 3D cell architecture found in a human liver. The company’s ultimate goal is to create human-sized structures suitable for transplant, but they might need more capital.

More coverage:



That’s it! 9 amazing ways that 3D printing is revolutionizing modern medical research.

Please share, RT and add your comments!


Thanks again to CGTrader for compiling this amazing list. Read their original post here.

Cover photo: The Body Shop Kevin Hand

Video: The Best 7 TED Talks On 3D Printing

TED 3D Printing

The TED conference has been home to some of the leading ideas about 3D printing. In a recent feature, TED has collected some of the best talks on 3D printing in one place.

At TED, we love sharing stories of 3D printing and its rapidly developing power to make new things possible. TED Fellow Bre Pettis’s Makerbot; the Thingiverse  database allow makers worldwide to share designs for printers; designers printing artificial limbs; artists re-inventing their process — we can’t wait to see what’s next. In honor of 3D printers here are some TED and TEDx talks on understanding this technology.

Here are the top 7 talks.

Lisa Harouni: A primer on 3D printing
So what exactly is 3D printing? Lisa Harouni breaks it down — from machine to design to product. Learn how it all works in this talk from TEDSalon London Spring 2011.

Klaus Stadlmann: The world’s smallest 3D printer
Klaus Stadlmann built the microprinter, the smallest 3D printer in the world. In this talk from TEDxVienna, he demos this tiny machine that could someday make customized hearing aids — or sculptures smaller than a human hair.

Scott Summit: Beautiful artificial limbs
In his work, prosthetics designer Scott Summit noticed that a lot of people had to hack their own artificial limbs — with socks, bubble wrap, even duct tape — to feel comfortable. In this talk from TEDxCambridge, he describes how he turned to 3D printing to create limbs that not only match a person’s body, but their personality as well.

Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney
The shortage of organ donations is a crisis in healthcare. A possible solution? Printable organs. In this stirring talk from TED2011, Anthony Atala describes his research into the development of an organ-printing 3D printer, and introduces a recipient of the product of a similar technology — a bladder grown by borrowed cells.

Marc Goodman: A vision of crimes in the future
Sometimes, despite the very best intentions, the things we create aren’t used in the ways we thought they would be. In this talk from TEDGlobal 2012, Marc Goodman draws from his experience in law enforcement to show the dark side of technology — what happens when great tools get into the wrong hands. In his talk, he shows a way 3D printing could be used for harm and cautions us to guard against these potentials.

David F. Flanders: Why I have a 3D printer
David F. Flanders is a 3D printing guru and the host of PIF3D, a collective dedicated to hosting “build parties,” during which 3D printing experts help curious outsiders build personal 3D printers. In this talk from TEDxHamburg, he discusses the development of the technology and the implications of its mass use, including 3D printers’ role in recovery relief, architecture, and the office supply closet.


Via TED.

Biofabrication: Scientists 3D Print Stem Cells to Create Human Organs

3D Printing Stem Cells

Scientists from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, have developed a technique for 3D printing human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), claiming that this research could be advanced to eventually 3D print human organs. In the short-term, this technique could be used for more reliable drug testing.

Dr Will Shu, from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, told BBC: “We found that the valve-based printing is gentle enough to maintain high stem cell viability, accurate enough to produce spheroids of uniform size, and most importantly, the printed hESCs maintained their pluripotency – the ability to differentiate into any other cell type.”

Here is a video from Sky News featuring the Edinburgh lab and an interview with Dr. Will Shu.

The team’s research has been published in the  journal Biofabrication.

3D Printing Stem Cells Edinburgh Team

More from BBC:

Jason King, business development manager of stem cell biotech company Roslin Cellab, which took part in the research, said: “Normally laboratory grown cells grow in 2D but some cell types have been printed in 3D.

“However, up to now, human stem cell cultures have been too sensitive to manipulate in this way.

“This is a scientific development which we hope and believe will have immensely valuable long-term implications for reliable, animal-free, drug testing, and, in the longer term, to provide organs for transplant on demand, without the need for donation and without the problems of immune suppression and potential organ rejection.”


Top 3D Printing Headlines Last Week: Hardware, Nest, Organs, Hacks

Nest Thermostat 3D Printing Hacks

A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from August 27 to September 1.

Monday, August 27

Thursday, August 30

Friday, August 31

Saturday, September 1


Nest thermostat photo by Nest used under Creative Commons license.