3D Printed Skin

The technology industry makes me happy. While politicians run around trying their damnedest to wreck everybody’s life the technology industry is busy trying to improve everybody’s life. One of the most interesting technologies that looks to change our society is 3D printers. Taken to its logical conclusion, 3D printer technology stands to decentralized great deals of manufacturing and medical care. The manufacturing side of 3D printers is discussed frequently but the technology’s applications in the medical field are less publicized. For example, I haven’t read about the fact that scientists at Wake Forest University have printed skin onto a burn victim:

Scientists have developed a method of 3D printing new skin cells onto burn wounds at Wake Forest University’s Military Research Center. The method is far superior to traditional skin grafts because regular grafts require skin from a donor site somewhere on the patient’s body. Taking skin from a donor site is painful and sometimes the patients do not even have enough unburned skin to transplant.

Wake Forest accomplishes the skin printing by way of laser scanning and a modified inkjet printer. The laser scans the patient’s burn and that information gets translated into a personalized plan for filling the wound up with cells. Then the inkjet printer lays down the cells individually, one layer at a time until the burned area is completely covered.

Imagine a day when entire organs can be printed. No longer will people in need of transplants have to worry about a lack of potential donors.