3D Printing Artificial Organs is Coming, Thanks to Smart Gel

A new ‘smart gel’ could unlock the potential for 3D-printed artificial organs.  The gel was written about in a paper in Science Reports.

New 3D-Printed “Smart Gel” Is Big Step Toward Artificial Organs

….New research has revealed a material that can alter its shape over time in response to temperature changes, taking 3D-printed objects into the fourth dimension.

What’s exciting here, according to the researchers at Rutgers University behind the work, is that the water-based gel they used is close to a dead ringer to our own organs and tissues — it’s even about 70 percent water, just like the human body. As the scientists explain in a paper published Tuesday in Science Reports, that could someday make the hydrogel the ideal material for 3D-printingreplacement body parts.

“Static 3D-printed cells cannot exactly mimic our bodily functions, because our body is in constant motion,” Howon Lee, a professor at Rutgers and senior author of the paper, tells Inverse.

The hydrogel solves that problem with its ability to change shape in response to temperature changes. In this particular case, temperatures above about 90 degrees Fahrenheit made the material shrink, while cooler temperatures made it take on more water and expand. By altering the temperature of just specific sections of the material, it’s possible to manipulate its shape and create motion.

“So people could use this method of 3D-printing smart gel with cells or grow cells after printing and somehow program how they change their shape to mimic vital activities like breathing or digestive motions,” Lee says. “And then those cells may experience the same conditions they would experience inside of our body.”

Read More at inverse.com


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