3D printing has paved the way to all sorts of interesting concepts, from potentially printing our own meat to entire eco-friendly houses. Another recent development is suggesting it will be good for more than just novelty-like items. A team of Cornell researchers has just printed a human ear. Yes. A human ear.
The ear was engineered using rat tail cells, cow cartilage, and a 3D printed mold of a patient’s ear. The mold takes about half a day to design and a day to print. It is filled with a substance made of collagen and cartilage cells that takes about 30 minutes to inject, which is then left to harden for about 15 minutes. It then sits in a culture bath for several days, which nourishes the cells and prepares them for implanting.
It is ideal for patients who suffer from ear deformities, but could also be an option for patients who have lost portions of their ear – or even the whole thing – due to an accident or illness.
This holds a lot of potential for plastic surgery and other medical applications, and goes to show that 3D printing has the ability to do some really cool and useful stuff in the future. What would you like to see 3D printing create next?
Image credit: Lindsay France/Cornell University Photography. A new fabricated ear created in the Cornell laboratory