Giving new meaning to this phrase is 3D printing.
“Doctors and researchers at the University of Louisville are attempting to make a copy of a sick patient’s heart by using the person’s own fat cells. A 3-D printer would “print” a ‘bioficial” heart. (Associated Press)” The process uses the individuals’ own cells to eliminate the risk of rejection. Is this technology a present reality?
To make such technology real, each part of the heart is printed separately: valves, arteries and blood vessels. Dr. Stuart Williams, Director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in downtown Louisville, says they should have assembly of an entire heart in the next 3-5 years, and, after protracted study, a completely implantable printed heart in 10 years. The heart is one of the simplest organs in the human body to replicate because made up of so few cells.
You can also print prosthetic limbs, particularly important in Uganda where the need is greatest among children. It is especially helpful to be able to print these limbs rapidly and inexpensively because the children who need them grow, necessitating a new limb that fits the body’s regular growth cycle. Providing new legs or arms every few months would be expensive and time consuming under ordinary circumstances. The technology of the 3D printer makes such a constant change an affordable reality.
Then there’s the house. After all, home is where the heart is! Researchers are making a 3D printer that could build a house in a day – 24 hours is what they have in mind – 24 hour home building technology. The 3D printer being built by Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California, is appropriately described as “colossal.”
Technology is at work bringing about some amazing and helpful things. Real hearts. 24 hour homes. Growing limbs. Who says technology is static and inert?!