There comes a time in humanity’s time-line, when a dent is created in the universe. This dent, allows us to live in excitement and curiosity of what the future will hold. In this time of our life, we can now use rapid prototyping in the medical field. There have been plenty of movies showcasing a human with robotic parts, a cyborg. With rapid prototyping coming into the medical field, we are getting closer to the day when we are half human and half robot. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which rapid prototyping is revolutionizing the medical industry.
In the past, prosthetic and implants were provided to patients with a standard measurement scale. We know that one size does not fit all, and though some people may have a similar body-type and can wear the same length of jeans or size of shirt, it is completely different when it comes to a body part. Rapid prototyping has changed this and can now provide a very accurate measurement of a prosthetic product by taking x-rays of the patient and converting them into a file which the RP machine can read. It then analyzes the best type of material to create a hand, leg, or any other type of prosthetic in order to get as close to the real thing as possible.
Combining rapid prototyping with advances in the neuroscience sector, doctors and scientists are now able to give prosthetics which can be controlled by the mind. This is the dent spoken of earlier in the introduction.
The scientific term for rapid prototyping of organs is tissue engineering, but in this article it will be called organ printing. Printing organs is a very recent discovery.
The best use for these printed organs is in the transplant process for patients in need of a heart, or any other organ. Because it is a subject that has not yet been mastered, there’s a lot of research being done to perfect the method. Currently, heart valves, liver structures, kidneys, and other hollow structures have been printed for testing. Certain hollow structures such as veins, bladders, and tubes for urinating have already been implemented in clinical trials.
The way in which these tissues have been printed is by using inkjet printers which have been modified to be able to “print” with gel and living cells, instead of ink. Once the gel and cells are printed in the form of the organ or hollow structure, the cells begin to fuse and create a living tissue.
Revolution of the Medical Industry
Rapid prototyping is an amazing area of research which will revolutionize, and is already shifting the medical industry towards a futuristic society. In the past, people did not live beyond the age of forty due to poor medical procedures, infections, and lack of anesthesia. With our current medical research, the average lifespan is seventy to eighty years old, and more and more people have lived past the hundred year mark.
Rapid prototyping is the next leap in our evolution and if done correctly, will allow humanity to surpass the limits of death. Imagine being able to print new organs, new skin, new tissues, new blood cells, every time we need them. When this is achieved, humans may become immortal. For now, it is an area needing lots of research, but also one that is moving very very quickly. Soon, we will be able to print complete, operating organs for all ages, and we may even be able to print our own medicine prescriptions by going online and selecting the sickness and the cure. We are far from being able to do all this, but the millennial generation may be the one to see all of these creations and live forever without any more sickness.