Coming eventually: Print your own organs

That's right, the ones that go inside you SLIDE SHOW

Topics: slideshow, Biotech, 3d Printing, Health, Health Care, Autodesk, , , ,

Coming eventually: Print your own organs Kidneys (Credit: via Wikipedia)

Chris Anderson left his sweet job as editor in chief of Wired because he believes 3-D printing is going to be “bigger than the Web.”

So far the technology, which enables desktop-size machines to “print” objects out of materials as diverse as recycled plastics and chocolate, is mainly the domain of professional designers, who have used it for years, and a growing band of early adopters. The machines tend to be slow and while prices have dropped, there’s still not a killer app that has compelled mass interest in a $2,000-plus machine. The “filament” — that is to say, ink — isn’t cheap either.

But the still small industry is betting that the ability to manufacture whatever you want whenever you want it is too compelling not to catch on. Just start to imagine the possibilities. And the implications. And now here’s something you probably didn’t get to: printing bodily organs.

Fast Company Co.Exist reports that the design firm Autodesk has partnered with a company called Organovo to develop the software necessary to instruct printers to create human tissue and organs. It’s kind of like software to create a 3-D PDF except it would create living (maybe even breathing) tissue. The manufactured product would first be used for research but could eventually be transplanted into humans:

Organovo is known for creating the first commercial 3-D bioprinters back in 2010; as of September 2012, the company had produced 10 bioprinters, each of which reportedly costs hundreds of thousands of dollars…Organovo’s NovoGen MMX Bioprinter shapes cells–often stem cells from a donor–into 3-D tissue that’s theoretically as good as anything created by the human body.

 



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    3D printing slideshow

    Organs

    TED Talks aren't always meandering reflections on the meaning of life -- sometimes they are about printable organs! Here, surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates how a 3-D printer can use living cells to output a transplantable kidney. The future is looking weird, people!

    (via TED Talks)

    3D printing slideshow

    Burritos

    Why run for the border when you can run to the printer? The Burritob0t can print you one with beans, sour cream, salsa, guacamole -- you name it.

    (via Burritob0t)

    3D printing slideshow

    Bikinis

    The techies over at Continuum have used layered microscopic nylon particles in an interlocking circle pattern to produce a wearable (and pretty!) bikini. It's the perfect suit for the geeky gal who wants to work on her tan.

    (via Continuum)

    3D printing slideshow

    Meat

    Backed by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, tech startup Modern Meadow is currently prototyping protein-exact replicas of meat. Whether or not anyone will eat printable meat remains to be seen.

    (viaFlickr Commons)

    3D printing slideshow

    The Smithsonian's entire collection

    Do you know where history meets the future? At the Smithsonian Institute's 3-D printing lab. You might not be able to own an original bust of Thomas Jefferson, but now you can have a exact replica!

    (via the Smithsonian Institute)

    3D printing slideshow

    Guns

    According to tech site Mandatory, the only printed -- and functional -- gun ever made came from a gunsmith known only as HaveBlue, who produced a working AR-15 lower receiver. Cool -- but scary.

    (via Shutterstock)

    3D printing slideshow

    Prosthetic limbs

    San Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations can print you a sturdy -- and beautiful -- prosthetic limb. According to their website, the limbs are printed to "express personality and individuality never before possible."

    (via Bespoke Innovations)

    3D printing slideshow

    Sex toys

    For those too shy to buy their sex toys the old fashioned way, you can now print them in the comfort -- and privacy! -- of your own home. The amorous techies over at Makerlove are providing free sex toy designs that you can print on a Maker 3-D printer. Isn't that nice of them?

    (via Makerlove)

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Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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