How 3d Printing Can Get You Your Heart’s Desire, literally
Remember when inkjet printers first became popular decades ago? How awesome was it to have one in your home? These printers made a lot of our school and office work so much easier and faster. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought about the possibility of printing dollar bills from these bad boys. But that wasn’t a thing. That wasn’t its thing.
Now imagine printing a water bottle that can actually hold water from the inkjet printers. Not possible? What about printing a Lego brick that can really be used as one? Though inkjet printers were really popular, they lacked this kind of feature obviously. Then someone thought of 3D printers.
If you haven’t heard of 3D-printing, you must have been living in a cave for the past few years. Mattel and HP, two giant names in technology, gave us the first 3-D printers. Why the hype on these printers, you may ask? For a multitude of reasons, the top being endless possibilities when you can print almost anything you can think of. Let’s explore.
A Human Heart?
Earlier this year, there was news about 3D-printing a human heart using biological materials. Yes, a human heart. If that doesn’t seem promising, I don’t know what does. With thousands of transplants taking place throughout the globe each day, how convenient would it be to give every person on the transplant list a viable heart within hours- not days- of waiting?
Last year, I saw an episode of Grey’s Anatomy depicting the very same theory- that they could 3D print a human organ for transplant. It was so groundbreaking they even won an award for it. To think that it IS now considered highly attainable is a wonder on its own. That’s how far we’ve come with technology.
One Step at a Time
With the 3D-printed human heart already a work in progress, it’s safe to say we can 3D-print anything – from Lego’s to footwear. That’s right. Just last year, Adidas unveiled what used to be plastic, fishing nets, and recycled polyester as their new line of sneakers. Talk about turning trash into something that’s entirely new and fancy.
Although Adidas has announced that these sneakers are still just prototypes, they give mankind the hope of having cleaner oceans by making it possible to eliminate the non-biodegradable waste that take more than two decades to decompose. Technology – 1, plastic pollution – 0.
Let me now introduce you to Freddie- our first 3D-printed shell recipient. Yup, Freddie is a turtle who lost his shell after being caught in a bushfire in Brazil. His life was saved entirely when he was given the artificial shell created by a group of veterinarians, a surgeon and a designer.
These 3D-printing successes lead us closer to printing viable organs and saving human lives. Who knows what else technology has in store for us in the next few years? Absolutely no one. But knowing that we can go as far as saving lives with the touch of a button makes it worthwhile.
The closest step to saving lives with the revolutionary 3D printers would have to be changing ordinary lives of ordinary people who least expect it.
When Jimmy Wilson received his 3D-printed hand, it opened the doors to so much more possibilities for him. He is now one step closer to his dream of BMX biking. How different is this 3D-printed hand from regular prosthetics? It was developed entirely for this feature- BMX biking. A broader range of motion from cutting edge technology is what makes it different. And better. 8-year-old Jimmy is now all set for his BMX biking dream, with not even being born with no fingers standing on his way.
The Future with 3D Printers
Years ago, we never would have thought building something out of thin air was utterly possible. These ideas sounded like shooting for the stars. It’s amazing how much technology can change our perception of what is and what is not possible.
The idea of creating something that may change someone’s life forever or even saving someone’s life altogether might have been unlikely decades ago, but has become entirely a possibility now more than ever.