With all the novelty stories that 3D printing has brought about over the past several months, there haven’t been many advancements in using the technology for medical and scientific purposes. That changes now, as researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and MIT have created the ability to use sugar to create artificial blood vessels, using the RepRap 3D printer.
“Rather than trying to print a large volume of tissue and leave hollow channels for vasculature in a layer-by-layer approach, [researchers] focused on the vasculature first and designed free-standing 3D filament networks in the shape of a vascular system that sat inside a mold. As in lost-wax casting, a technique that has been used to make sculptures for thousands of years, the team’s approach allowed for the mold and vascular template to be removed once the cells were added and formed a solid tissue enveloping the filaments,” the University of Pennsylvania wrote in a statement.
3D printing may still seem like a science fiction concept to the uninitiated, but to those who are willing to open their eyes, it is very apparent that it is here, it is now, and it is exploding in popularity. Everything from glasses to bikinis to coasters to artifical bones to guitars (need we continue?) has been successfully printed from a 3D printer. It’s fascinating to watch this next evolution in scientific advancement.