The high demand for readily-constructed goods led to the development of 3-D printing, a system where a machine builds up whatever the developer wants by reading a code. Commercialized 3-D printers have been on the market for some time, I myself recall seeing them sold at Barnes and Noble, as well as the sense of awe I felt at the slow, systematic process of the actual printing.
Because of the relative ease that 3-D printing allows, it didn’t take long for researchers to begin to weigh the options outside of printing with plastics alone, and for causes other than just pleasure or day-to-day household functionality. Soon, the concept of bioprinting came into being, a process analogous to 3-D printing with the material being the only differing factor. The tipping point of this process is estimated to be in 2024, also known as the expected date of a successful 3-D printed liver transplant. Other perhaps more attainable bio-printing products would be the ever-personalizable tooth-crowns, bones, prosthetics…and what every living-organism on the planet needs; food. Bioprinting also wields the power of being able to severely limit, even take away certain jobs on the market. Nowadays skilled professionals have built livelihoods upon crafting teeth, sculpting bones, and creating food. Most likely if food were to be bioprinted, it wouldn’t be for every day, or would take decades to reach “the norm;” although it could be great for fad-restaurants and producing food for those that need it. Other more negative impacts from bioprinting mostly result on the environment taking more hits, which many say it cannot afford at this point. If methane and carbon emissions were cut way back before bioprinting really took root, and if more sustainable methods of bioprinting came into being, it could be a cool, helpful, and exciting mode of creating objects that many are in desperate need of and wait years for today; going back to human organs and the like.
Bioprinting sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie and has excited many scientists and non-scientist across the globe. This process has the potential to alter thousands, even millions of lives for the better, and I for one cannot wait to see what the future holds.
This source gives a highly-analytical view of the process of bioprinting, and includes charts depicting materials needed, and even accurate pricing.
This source is more layman-friendly, providing an overview of 3-D printing in general and how bioprinting evolved from it.