RE: 3D printing of human tissue

From: SiderWhite (
Date: Sun Mar 19 2000 - 00:53:30 EET

Just came across an interesting article in the April 2000 Popular Science
magazine where they are using a 3DP printer and a powdered biodegradeable
polymer to create scaffoldings on which to grow tissues where they can
engineer human replacement parts such as heart valves. Imagine just
ordering a new heart off the shelf to replace your failing one! Never ever
underestimate the power of RP to impact humanity!
Below is a link to it or below that is a copy of the text of the article:


Glenn Whiteside
The Fine Print

Engineered tissues, such as this heart valve, can be grown on biodegradable
scaffoldings created by a 3-D printer.


To grow the components of a human heart in the lab, some researchers are
turning to high-tech equipment originally designed for completely different
purposes. For example, some bioreactors used to incubate engineered tissues
are derived from a rotating-wall bioreactor developed by NASA for
microgravity experiments. The rotation ensures that nutrients are evenly
distributed throughout the scaffoldings upon which heart cells are grown.

Creating the biodegradable scaffoldings that support growing cells is a job
made for another repurposed tool: a three-dimensional printer, or 3DP.
Patented in 1993 by a group at MIT led by mechanical engineer Emanuel Sachs,
the 3DP was originally developed to create ceramic molds for metal castings.
It is also widely used to create instant prototypes of parts for airplanes
and other machines.

Biomedical engineer Linda Griffith of MIT is using the 3DP to make body
parts instead. First, she creates a computerized blueprint for the
scaffolding and sends it to the 3DP. The printer's multiple ink-jet nozzles
then spit out microdrops of a glue-like binder onto an ultrathin layer of
powdered biodegradable polymer. The microdrops bind with the powder and
solidify. The platform on which the scaffolding is being constructed then
descends ever so slightly (less than the width of a human hair), a new layer
of powder is spread, and a second pattern of binder is sprayed onto the
power. This process is repeated, layer upon layer, in a sequence directed by
the blueprint, until the entire structure is complete.

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