New applications of 3D-printing in medicine

We believe that 3D printing is among the most important technologies to make the humanization of space a success. 3D printing enables us to manufacture complex items without the need of running large factories, and hence 3D printing will reduce the need to import goods from Earth by Space Settlements.

Also the developments in the field of stem cell research are going fast, scientists can now create embryo-like stem cells without creating and destroying embryos. In the near future it will be possible to create all kinds of tissue from a random tissue sample of a patient who is in need of such tissue. In this way rejection of tissue by the body is avoided. But tissues are not organs, yet.

Organs are complex structures, often made from different types of tissue. It was only a matter of time, before some one came with the idea of using 3D printers to make organs from patients’ own tissue. And according to an article on Science Daily British scientists have succeeded in the construction of a machine which could be used in the printing of organs.

When printable organs become a widespread reality, organ shortages will become a thing from the past. Also it allows us to avoid the difficult ethical debates surrounding xenotransplantation or the use of organs from executed criminals. A further advantage of this technique is that organ transplantation also becomes available for animals.

In Space Settlements we have a further complication, which will be solved by printable organs. In a small and relatively isolated community as a Space Settlement the issue of organ shortage is much larger, since organs cannot easily be transported from either Earth or another Space Settlement.

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8 thoughts on “New applications of 3D-printing in medicine”

  1. Amazing stuff. Truly.
    The first time I saw one of these 3D printers was during an episode of the Big Bang Theory.

    The executed criminal organ thing always raised issues for me. Not so much ethical but rather that old suspicion of supposed cell memory….
    “Yes, sir, your liver donor was Hannibal Lechter.”
    Hmm…..

    I was discussing technological advancements with my son yesterday, in the context of Science Fiction writers, specifically how some work dates quickly and the plot becomes very wooden, as if the writer was unable to truly envision a future world. We were specifically thinking of novels like Footfall and Eon.
    One novel, Cyberway, by Alan Dean Foster describes a very advanced internet using mobile modems called spinners. But the operator has to have a hardline to plug a spinner into!

    The real world always seems more real.

    However, what I want to know is when did they discover the Earth is round?
    Good post. Nice read.

    1. “Yes, sir, your liver donor was Hannibal Lechter.”

      That reminds me of the pseudo-scientific concept of “body memory“, which would allow to transfer memories from one to another during a organ transplantation.

      “The real world always seems more real.”

      You know what they say? The truth is often more bizarre than the strangest fiction.

      “However, what I want to know is when did they discover the Earth is round?”

      I would not know a precise date, but it has been known for several thousands of years, given that the ancient greeks were already discussing the exact size of the equator.

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