A Star Trek Like Replicator Could Be Used To Print Human Organs

Pioneers of 3D-printing research hope to use light to print complex human organs.

New 3D-printing methodology could allow the effective printing of human organs, The Sunday Times reports.

The new technique allows experts to project images from a video into a moving glass of light-reactive gloop and has often been compared to “replicators” from Star Trek that allowed the Starship Enterprise crew to synthesize hot dinners on demand.

The technique, in which an ordinary video projector beams images into a slowly turning glass of light-reactive gloop, has been compared to the “replicators” that conjured hot dinners for the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley Hayden Taylor was the lead researcher in the project. He said that conventional 3D-printing techniques of assembling objects in layers do not make soft, flexible objects easily.

But Dr. Taylor’s new technique doesn’t strain printed objects like the conventional methods. This would make it easier to print “in the soft tissue that human organs are made of,” he said. “I should emphasize that we are just starting to work on that now.”

The 38-year-old doctor hailing from Bristol said the idea came as a result of a conversation three years ago with PhD student Brett Kelly about volumetric printing, a process by which an object is printed all at once.

“Suddenly the principle of the CT scan came to mind,” he said. “You shine a light through the body from many different angles.” The images are then combined to create one whole one.

“The algorithm that enables that imaging to work could be helpful for us,” he said. “We essentially reversed that principle to create objects in 3D using light.”

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