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Globalization: 3-D printing

By: Joseph Arias

3-D printing started off with a bunch of buzz and excitement, but it can really only make things out of plastic limiting its potential for other uses. In comes Jennifer Lewis, a materials scientist at Harvard University. she is developing the chemistry and machines to make it so 3-D printers can use a wide assortment of different materials, from living cells to semiconductors. She is able to combine “inks” of different materials into one object while printing to create new and different objects that can impact society.

There are other groups of people doing the same thing as Lewis such as a group at Princeton University that created a bionic ear and researchers at the University of Cambridge that have printed retinal cells to form eye tissue. While these are great innovations Lewis and her team has done more. They have printed components needed for a lithium ion battery, sensors on plastic patches that athletes could wear to detect concussions and measure violent impacts, and they have printed biological tissue interwoven with a complex network of blood vessels.

These advancements in 3-D printing allow for the potential of printing organs that can be used as replacement organs in humans and other living animals. This would allow many people waiting on transplant lists for all sorts of organs to get that organ right away instead of waiting for months and sometimes years for one. It will also allow doctors to use these printed organs to do drug testing and research for diseases instead of using test subjects. The artificial body part will give the same results as a person, but not give a person the lingering affects of the test.

Advancements in 3-d printing will impact the way we live because it will help researchers and doctors in development of drugs and the prevention of disease. It will also impact us by giving us artificial organs that can be given to all sick people out in the world and save the lives of many.



[1] D. Rotman, “Microscale 3-D Printing,” MIT technology review, [Online]. Available: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/526521/microscale-3-d-printing/. [Accessed 19 July 2017].

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