Scientists at the University of Toronto put 3D printing into great use as they created a 3D skin printer that can form skin tissue to heal wounds in patients. The main ingredients that make this possible were two protein-based biomaterials such as collagen and fibrin which run along in vertical stripes. The device, According to the university is “A handheld 3D skin printer that deposits even layers of skin tissue to cover and heal deep wounds.” Further adding “The team believes it to be the first device that forms tissue in situ, deposing and setting in place, within two minutes or less.”
The device looks and acts much like a tape dispenser, but instead of dispensing a tape roll, the printing device includes “a microdevice that forms tissue sheets” According to the university. As we mentioned before, the sheets creating tissues contain two proteins such as collagen which is the most abundant protein found in the dermis, along with Fibrin, another protein that plays a big role in wound healing. Navid Hakimi, study lead author, and a Ph.D. student had said in a statement “Our skin printer promises to tailor tissues to specific patients and wound characteristics.”
A study by Wohlers in 2015 revealed of all 3D printing revenue comes from companies that are related to the medical industry. The printing devices have been used for more diverse forms of surgeries as well as skin dispensers ranging from knee, hip, spinal, and cranial implants. furthermore, more than 100,000 acetabular (hip cup) implants have been produced via 3D printing devices with approximately 50,000 of them implanted in patients designed specifically with their anatomy. There are four main uses of 3D printing in the medical field that are associated with recent innovations such as creating tissues, and organoids, surgical tools, patient-specific surgical models and custom made prosthetics.
Currently, the device is mainly used in the medical field for bio-printing, using a computer-guided pipette to layer protein and living cells on top of one another, successfully forming tissue. In the US, medical laboratory and research company Organovo is experimenting with printing liver and intestinal tissue to help with the studying of organs in vitro, as well as with drug development for certain diseases.