If you’re visually impaired, then reading a text in a book full of small letters won’t be easy. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SIT) therefore decided to do something about it and came up with FingerReader. This is a 3D printed device that makes it easy for anyone to read a text. The only thing you need is your own index finger and a FingerReader device.
Any user can wear the device like a ring, and it is equipped with a camera. This camera reads the words of all kinds of online or offline texts after the user points his forefinger at the words of choice. These words are then processed, after which a synthesized voice reads the text aloud. The 3D printed device could be used to read menu cards, flyers, online articles and whatever kind of text a user would want to read.
3D printed jewelry, furniture or even houses: all of it amazed us massively during last months. However, the technique really becomes interesting when we’re talking about printing actual organs. Will we even be able to copy hearts, or even entire people, using a 3D printer? Well, despite we really don’t believe it will ever be a possibility to 3D print an entire human, recent developments do contribute to the success of so-called bioprinting.
You might have heard about bioprinting already, as this is something we’ve been writing about a lot, recently. In case you’re not a frequent visitor of the beloved website 3dprinting.com – oh, yes – we’ll explain you a little more about it: researchers currently try to 3D print organs, such as livers and hearts. Yes, there’s some creepy elements about it, but on the other hand: if we could one day be able to actually 3D print organs, then we wouldn’t even need donors anymore. In other words: it could save lives.
Bioprinting is that part of 3D printing where additive manufacturing is used to create new organs. This technique is still in its developing phase, and it might take quite a while until we will actually be able to 3D print a heart. However, doctor Ibrahim Ozbolat at University of Iowa already knows what the next level of bioprinting will be: creating 3D printed organs that can generate electricity themselves.
In an interview with Huffington Post Live he said some interesting things about the future of bioprinting. It all came down to the fact that he thinks current research is focusing on replacing failed organs, while he thinks scientists will one day be able to create an entirely new organ. The organ will have electronic properties and it can be used to enhance “the functionality of the human body.”
Exciting times for Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Yesterday we told you the hospital was the place where Van Gogh got his severed ear printed, and today we can announce researchers at the Boston hospital are actually able to 3D print blood vessels. Scientists can now 3D print man-made blood vessels from scratch. The team published their findings in the journal Lab on a Chip.
Scientists have been able to 3D print artificial hearts, livers and lungs, but until today it has been impossible to create man-made blood vessels from scratch. However, there has always been a need for it, as those vessels can solve a lot of medical issues. When a person is suffering from faulty blood vessels, then an artificial vessel can be used as a tissue donor transplant. The problem however is that there is a shortage of donors, and the body’s immune system can sometimes also reject blood vessels from another person.
Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear back in 1888, but now in 2014 his ear is making a fantastic comeback. If that sentence doesn’t make any sense to you, then we certainly can’t blame you for that. So let’s explain a little: Diemut Strebe, an American-based artist has been using 3D printing techniques to print Van Gogh’s missing ear. And no, this is not just a plastic ear, but a real, living human ear, which can survive for many years. Amazing or frightening? Van Gogh’s 3D printed ear!
Strebe has partnered with scientists to be able to 3D print a new ear for Van Gogh. They used a technique called bioprinting, which uses someone’s human tissue in order to 3D print a new limb that particular a person. The team initially wanted to use DNA from a postcard Van Hogh had licked, but the saliva turned out not to be from the 19th century painter, but from someone else. They therefore used living human cells from his great-grandson Lieuwe van Gogh. He however only shares 1/16th of the same genes of Vincent van Gogh.
UK dental lab Attenborough Dental‘s spine is probably not the bassline, but a 3D printer. For over 100 years, it has been a dental laboratory and it is currently active in more than 20 countries worldwide. 3D printing techniques are becoming more and more common in the field of dental innovations and the lab therefore wants to expand its services and aims to use it in the field of orthopedics. It might sound very futuristic, but a 3D printed spinal implant could be a solution to many patients.
3D printed spinal implants could be such a benefit for patients because of the implant’s ability to be customized. The problem with today’s spinal implants is that they use a one-size-fits-all approach, which means the implants often don’t fit perfectly. The company’s managing director Ed Attenborough has summarized todays problems perfectly to Nottingham Post: “Patients are made to fit the artificial implant, via surgery, instead of the implant being made to fit the patient.”
3D printing techniques have been helping many fields to improve, such as the medical one. Whether it comes to a 3D printed pelvis or jaw or even a skull replacement, the technique has proven its ability to improve and save lives. British doctors at Southampton Hospital have now used the technology to create a hip replacement for a 71-year-old woman, using stem cells and a CT scan.
Meryl Richards has had a car accident back in 1977 and the woman suffered from a painful hip ever since. She has had as many as six operations since, but they weren’t successful on the long run. Doctors therefore tried the possibility of 3D printing a hip in order to achieve a longer sustaining success.
There is a 5 percent chance that you suffer from apnoea, as 5 percent of the world population has this disease. When one is suffering from this disease, the person can’t breathe properly during night time. Their breathing blocks and this can happen several times per night. This is due to the fact the throat blocks the air passage. The implications can be huge, as people suffering from the disease can feel tired all the time and sometimes even get heart attacks, diabetes or a stroke. The good news? 3D printing techniques are being used to solve this problem.
More specifically, an Australian company in the dental industry is creating a mouthpiece to stop the throat from blocking the air passage. This company is called Oventus and they now use a 3D printer to create personalized mouthpieces for people suffering from sleep apnoea. They work together with CSIRO researchers to make it all happen. CSIRO describes the device as a “duckbill which extends from the mouth like a whistle.” The device divides the air into two separate airways, allowing the air to flow through the back of the throat while avoiding obstructions from the nose, the back of the mouth and tongue.
If you’re a football player and you’ve got your face injured during a match, then it could take up to three weeks before you can play a new match. This is all because of safety procedures. However, if you’re having a couple of important games in front of you, then it will surely be a big disappointment not being able to play. But as 3D printing techniques have entered almost any kind of manufacturing field, then why not enter the football field? And that’s exactly what British 3D printing company Cavendish Imaging Lukasz Fabianski did.
Lukasz Fabianski (Arsenal), John Heitinga (Fulham, pictured above) and Fernando Torres (Chelsea) have something in common, except from all being famous football players. They have all been wearing protective face masks. The story of Heitinga perfectly illustrates the use of such a match. He got a broken nose during a match, and he therefore couldn’t play on the field for up to three weeks. Because there were quite a lot of important games to play he got a 3D printed protective mask, in order to enable him to play the games.
Scientists have been 3D printing an entire cancer tumor to find out how to fight the disease. Until now, scientists used to grow cancer cells in petri dishes, with the inability to let them become real cancer cells, which means they would stay 2D cells. They were used to test drugs against cancer, but when the drug was ready to be used on an actual cancer cell, there was a high chance that the 3D structure of the actual tumor would make the drug ineffective. A new study called Biofabrication claims it now cán produce such 3D versions of tumor cells.
Wei Sun of Drexel University has succeeded to print such cells, which can be used for the same purposes as 2D homegrown cancer cells, but probably with better outcomes. Using such models, scientist could get a better understanding of the structures of tumors, which could lead to better treatment. Above you can see six images. The upper three are 2D models of a cancer tumor and the three below are 3D versions. As you can see, the 3D printed versions are way more detailed.