You may be aware of 3D printing or have seen low-cost 3D printers, which can create plastic toys, replicas and objects of your own design. But did you know that 3D printing is also enabling life-saving and transforming medical procedures, which were unthinkable a few years ago?
Welcome to the world of 3D printed body parts
The world of medicine and biomaterials has collided with advances in 3D printing. In a recent case, an infant was born with a rare and life-threatening birth defect, and was unable to breath unaided. A CT scan of the boy’s airways was used to 3D print a bio-sleeve, which was a perfect fit for his bronchus. The material used dissolves in the body, giving the boy’s bronchus time to grow strong, before disappearing, without the need for surgery.
This incredible story is an early example of a new clinical paradigm in biomedicine: 3D bioprinting.
Discover what 3D bioprinting can do now and in the future
This free online course tells the story of this revolution, introducing you to commonly used biomaterials, including metals, ceramics and polymers, and how bioprinting techniques, such as selective laser melting, hot-melt extrusion and inkjet printing, work. Through case studies - ranging from hip implants to facial transplants to lab-grown organs - we’ll answer questions such as:
- What is 3D printing and how did it come about?
- Is it really possible to print structures that incorporate both living and artificial components?
- How long before we can print whole body organs for transplants?
- What is possible right now, and what will be possible in 20 and 50 years’ time?
- And what are the limitations of this technology?
This course will also equip and encourage you to become part of the story. You’ll be given guided opportunities to not only investigate the 3D printing facilities available to you, but to also design, potentially print and share your creations with your fellow learners.
You can find out more in Gordon Wallace’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “How is 3D printing revolutionising healthcare?”