Monday, February 15, 2016

3D printing is now for kids (and fake ears)


Want to know how far 3D Printing has advanced?

Mattel (best known for Barbie and Hot Wheels) will soon release a $300, child-safe printer model under its previous ThingMaker name to let users design and fabricate their own toys and jewelry.
Sure, it's not the first inexpensive 3D printer, but if Mattel manages to make the overall printing and designing experience easy enough for children, it could be on to something huge. It gives kids some early training in 3D design, which will likely be increasingly important over the next few decades. Similar to Minecraft, it's also an ideal way for kids to use technology creatively. And, if it takes off, you can bet Mattel will make bank from accessory purchases.
Meanwhile, scientists are now implanting 3D printed bone, muscle, and cartilage into animals - and printing it all in human size.
Five months after implantation, the bone tissue looked similar to normal bone, complete with blood vessels and with no dead areas, the research team reported in Nature Biotechnology.

Human-sized ear implants looked like normal cartilage under the microscope, with blood vessels supplying the outer regions and no circulation in the inner regions (as in native cartilage). The fact that there were viable cells in the inner regions suggested that they had received adequate nutrition.

Results with 3D-printed skeletal muscle were equally impressive. Not only did the implants look like normal muscle when examined two weeks after implantation, but the implants also contracted like immature, developing muscle when stimulated.
Perhaps today's teenage toy-makers will even turn into tomorrow's top-tier surgeons.

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