So the next step from a lamp is obviously a human body part. Right?
Okay maybe not, but this is another arena researchers are looking at for three-dimensional printing. The idea is that, like an AutoCAD drawing, we can know and model our body parts, right down to that adorable little crimp in your earlobe..
“One thing that’s been happening in the last few years is that people are trying to expand the range of materials that can be used in a 3D printer,” says Hod Lipson of Cornell University. “What we’ve been looking at, along with a number of other groups, is that instead of printing in plastic, you could print in biological material to make three dimensional tissue constructs.”
The ear is a great place to start with such an endeavor. As far as parts of the body goes, it’s pretty utilitarian, simply functioning as a sound-catching dish of cartilage. It has no organ function.
Whether we could some day print a new lung or—gulp—brain remains to be seen.