This may seem a bit of a stretch on topics for a mostly design/maker blog, but the advances and breadth of rapid prototyping are really astounding. I know some people are trying to get their heads around the idea of printing 3D objects. Although rapid prototyping has been around for 20 years or so in the manufacturing industry, it’s still sitting just on the fringe of mainstream and personal use (see previous post on early adopters in small businesses). But forget that for a moment and try to get your head around this: Organ Printing. Bio-Engineering. Researchers are able to print out living human tissue with the goal of being able to print live organs for transplants to save people. Instead of a laser-jet ink cartridge and paper in the paper tray, they have a cartridge filled with cells and a crosslinker and a petri dish waiting underneath. They’re not there yet, but in Japan, researchers from the University of Tokyo and bio-tech firm (Next 21) are using 3D printers to print out bones made out of a strong yet lightweight plastic (not Adamantium as pondered in Gizmodo) for facial bone replacement.
Doesn’t it just amaze you how far our technology has gone and where it’ll be? How much of an impact will it have in our everyday lives? If digital manufacturing can drastically change medicine and how we heal ourselves, surely it’ll be a central part of our lives on how we get other things. Personal products to use and consume. Food. Shelter. Put in perspective, these things don’t seem as far-fetched now as printing live organs. And that’s not science fiction. It’s reality.