You might have heard about 3D printers that can print out interesting food-shaped plastic extracts, but now researchers are trying to take the 3D printing technology to the next level. Scientists from Fraunhofer Institute, Germany, have designed a 3D printer that can even fabricate blood vessels. This new invention may actually save lives.
Gunter Tovar, project manager of the Fraunhofer Institute's artificial blood vessel program said, "We are establishing a basis for applying rapid prototyping to elastic and organic biomaterials. The vascular systems illustrate very dramatically what opportunities this technology has to offer, but that's definitely not the only thing possible."
How are they going to print blood vessels? This blood vessel 3D printer will use a special type of ink to print out artificial biological molecules by zapping the molecules with a laser and printing them out into the shape of blood vessels. The artificial blood vessels will have two layers like the real blood vessels and would have the capability to build complex branching structures. This 3D printer will use laser technology to create three-dimensional structures from different kinds of materials and these materials will be then chemically bonded by UV radiation.
The tubes used for printing the artificial blood vessels are biofunctionalized to allow interaction between the artificial and original blood vessels. In this way, the two blood vessels join with each other.
Fraunhofer researchers have said that this invention is still in the research phase and implementation of this technology in reality will take some more time. This invention can be a great help to those who suffer from clogged arteries or for smokers who need capillaries replacement. Let’s just hope that this life saving 3D printer comes out of the research room soon successfully.