As well as being used for growing organs, this newer biotechnology is also being used to create skin for prosthetic limbs and for skin grafts. By taking a few live skin cells and applying bioengineering, limbs can be designed on a computer. The object, such as a prosthetic limb organs, can be customized to fit an amputee's needs or a patient in need of a transplant. The 3D bioprinter will print out these objects using nanotechnology, layer by layer, in less than an hour.
In early 2015, 3-D printing techniques expanded to include materials such as graphene, a material possessing unique properties such as high levels of strength, rather than only plastics. Researchers have since proved that printing graphene using a micropipette technique to create nanostructures is possible. The nanostructures and graphene structures that are printed can create various objects, including architectures and woven structures. Using a computer, science and healthcare professionals can take X-rays and molds from a patient to recreate a specialized prosthetic that is customized to fit the patient. This allows the prosthetics to be more comfortable and function more naturally. In the future, this technology will change the face on medicine and manufacturing. This technology has great potential for the NBIC (nano-, bio-, info-, and cognitive-based technologies) to strategically make advancements in medicine and in surgical procedures that will greatly save time, costs, and create more convenient opportunities for patients and healthcare professionals.
In October 2016, Harvard researchers 3D-printed the world's first heart-on-a-chip with integrated sensors. The device, which is a micro-physiological system, mimics the behavior of human tissue and is the most sophisticated of the chip-based organs – including lungs, tongues and intestines – built by the team. Further development of the organ-on-chip method could also decrease our reliance on testing medical treatments on animals. In 2017, Tom Kamperman et al devised a way to speed up 3D bioprinting by using 2 fluids that are mixed together.
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