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Print me a part

In an article the other day we talked about a tragic story where parts of remains were confiscated by the state. While that battle is being waged we discover an area where technology is creating body parts using 3D printing technology.

Here is video showing a heart valve replacement.

According to this article by Forbes Magazine, there are several areas where 3D printing may revolutionize medicine by fashioning replacements rather than requiring donors.

Besides heart valves here are other parts that may get the 3D treatment:

  • Blood vessels—artificial blood vessels have been produced which might be used in transplants
  • Skin—The body’s largest organ is hard to do without. There are emergency medical applications and cosmetic ones.
  • Liver cells—While not intended for “internal use,” these artificial liver cells can be used in lab experiments to mimic liver behavior to aid in research and medicine testing.
  • Ears—Apparently ear structure lends itself rather well to 3D printing, and a number of people are receiving bionic ears

Of course, that’s just the beginning. There is work being done to replace bones and other tissues. Some people complain that working with a doctor is a lot like going to a body shop. This may become even more true as parts become more available.

Of course, this also makes one wonder about what will happen with body augmentation for style and function. As we get better at creating parts will people begin to enhance themselves? You know they will! The future is going to look pretty weird. Maybe that’s not so bad.

 

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