3D printing as we know it has been around for about 20 years already. At first, valued by the automotive industry for its speed and quality in prototypes production, nowadays it is being applied to various fields, including prosthetics and food industry. Each day we receive more and more news about increased 3D printing capabilities. So, maybe it is only a matter of time until we will be able to 3D print a whole human body.
3D Printing Basics
Basically, 3D printing is a process where the material is built by layers and bonded. The material can include anything – plastic, metal, resin, and with the latest innovations even organic matter.
So, engineers who previously had to craft each piece of a certain machine by hand now can use precision, speed, and cost of 3D printing to do that for them. Just as speculated 3D printing revolutionized the industry.
3D printers have become so versatile that even International Space station got one to them. Astronauts are using it to create spate parts in space-saving a lot of time, fuel and possibly lives.
Other Possible Uses Include Organs for Transplantation
Medicine is probably one of the most prominent sectors of 3D printing. First prosthetics have been printed for quite a few years now. It is cheap, durable and easily replaceable. A real wonder one might say. Nonetheless, they are constantly improving as new material is being discovered making it even stronger, lighter and cheaper.
However, there is another developing field of medicinal application. It’s fully functioning human organs. Imagine if a doctor could just print you another kidney out of your stem cells. First, there would be a drastic reduction in transplant waiting time. Also, because it is made of your cells, you would not need to take any precautionary medication.
The only downside to this is the technology not fully ready yet. However, researchers and scientists are working on it and have made a first successful kidney transplant in early 2019.
3D Printing of Foods
But not all applications have been fully developed. There are new possibilities discovered each day. For example, a company “Nova Meat” based in Barcelona has been tinkering with 3D printing of various foods. Recently they have announced a 3D printed steak! Can you imagine what it should taste like?
3D printing technology allows the material to be laid by crisscross patterns, so live organic cells may be interconnected between layers creating a texture that imitates one of a piece of meat.
They have reported using peas, seaweed, rice and other ingredients in this process to create a texture that is indistinguishable from the real one.
Guiseppe Scionti, the founder of Nova Meat has stated that “This strategy allows us to define the resulting texture in terms of chewiness and tensile and compression resistance, and to mimic the taste and nutritional properties of a variety of meat and seafood, as well as their appearance.”
He even speculates that technology should be ready for commercial restaurant use by next year. Due to the scalability of the process each restaurant could print steaks for themselves including various other foods. Imagine a menu saying “3D printed steak”.
As we can see, technology is quite new, yet it has already proven itself worthy and potent. So in the future, it is reasonable to expect 3D printing in every aspect of our lives. From prototyping tech machines to organ transplantation, even food. So, would you dare to eat a 3D printed steak?
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