What is 3D bioprinting? Where did it come from and why is it important? What does it have to do with 3D design?
Yes, this topic is very specialized and special. It may seem that it is not directly related to teaching 3D design with Blender. But, wait a bit and read this article till the end. Probably, your opinion will change and you will understand why if you are interested in 3D design or its applications in different fields, knowing about bioprinting is also useful and important for you.
Various technologies, even those that seem to be used more in the fields of art and entertainment, like 3D design, opened their way to other industries and fields. Interest in medicine and saving human lives and 3D design can be collected. If you are a doctor or an engineer, maybe one-day 3D design will help you in your career and research.
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To what extent does technology change our life and future? It may seem like technology is only supposed to make things easier. Or optimize product production. But the effects of technology in our lives are much deeper. The effects of some technologies are revealed earlier and create more tangible changes. Because those changes are in the field of industry, economy, and business. For example, artificial intelligence and its important sub-branch i.e. machine learning are used in areas such as banking, healthcare, cinema and entertainment industry, military industries, etc.
Of course, it probably seems natural that artificial intelligence would be useful in many fields. Now, if we want to list the applications of 3D design, how many do you think we will reach? Or how many can you think of? You may first think of 3D computer games. Next, 3D designs (such as 3D icons) are used in advertising and user interface design. And then, you get to 3D printers.
All of them are true. But you should know that 3D design has found new uses in recent years, especially after the developments in 3D printing technologies. A look at the history of 3D design shows a growing trend in the role of 3D design and 3D printing in various fields. Although some of those applications need time to come to fruition and more people to understand their impact.
Bioprinting is one of those important, interesting, and new applications that can save many lives. Imagine the day when no patient will die waiting for an organ transplant. Because doctors can easily print the needed organ using a 3D printer, that is, a 3D bioprinter, and transplant it to the patient.
Linking 3D printers and tissue engineering
Of course, it’s not that simple and it’s still in its infancy. Bioprinting technology is a very complex and new process. Experts in medical and biological sciences are still researching this field. There are still many challenges to overcome. It may be a bit difficult for non-specialists to explain the exact process and even the definition of print. In the following, an attempt is made to provide a general picture of bioprinting, its importance, and applications in simple and non-specialist language. News-medical.net has defined 3D bioprinting as follows.
Bioprinting is a method used in tissue engineering that allows the creation of complex biological structures.
Tissue engineering is a sub-branch of biotechnology. The effort of scientists in the specialty of tissue engineering is to find a way to repair the damaged tissues of the organs of living organisms. In this way, they try to build structures of artificial or natural materials called scaffolds so that living tissue can grow in it and can mimic a biological process outside the human body or replace damaged tissue in the human body. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary specialty. Because it needs to use engineering science and biological sciences to find ways to improve, maintain and replace biological tissues or even organs.
The advantage of 3D bioprinting
In tissue engineering, various methods are used to repair and replace tissues. Why 3D printers and 3D tissue design can have a role in tissue engineering? What is the advantage of 3D printing and what possibilities does it give to professionals?
The tissue that is made must have the same function as the tissue in the human body. For this reason, all the details and connections within the texture must be reconstructed. It is not possible to make a heart that cannot pump blood for transplantation. 3D bioprinting allows specialists to create the desired tissue structure with precision and detail.
Now we need to know a little about how 3D printers work. First, you have to give a 3D design to the 3D printer. That means, first, a 3D model of what is going to be printed must be made with one of the 3D design software. Then it’s time to choose the printer ink or the material that should be put in the printer. 3D printers work with different techniques and materials. Naturally, the 3D printer used in the construction industry works differently from the bioprinter.
But the point is that all 3D printers put materials (ink) layer by layer on top of each other. This is why 3D printing is called additive manufacturing. In this type of production, the materials are placed on top of each other in exactly the right size and shape based on a 3D design prepared for the printer.
So, in the 3D printing process of a tissue, all its internal complexities are also made. Because a three-dimensional plan of the tissue is given to the device, which is prepared based on the patient’s MRI or CT scan image. Bioink is used in bioprinting. And in addition to all this, the specialist has complete control over the printing process and the details of the final output.
Applications of bioprinting
As mentioned, 3D bioprinting is in its infancy. There are still many problems ahead. For example, problems related to bioprinting materials. The tissue or organ that is made must become a part of the body of a living organism and not harm it. In addition, the printed tissue or organ is not living. Before transplantation, it is necessary to prepare it and make sure that it can mimic the function of the tissue or organ. Therefore, there is a need for materials that are both non-toxic and safe for the human body, and effective (that is, they can be used to make living tissues).
Research is ongoing and various methods for 3D bioprinting are being tested. If the researchers overcome the problems, then almost all the damaged tissues and organs of the human body, from the skin to the nerves, can be repaired. It is even possible to replace only the damaged part of a member. For example, the atria of a patient’s heart may be damaged. In that case, only the atria are printed and transplanted to the heart. It is also possible to print and transplant bones and muscles.
Another very important application of bioprinting technology is in testing drugs and finding cures for diseases. When it is possible to print an organ and that organ does its work in the laboratory environment and outside the human body, it is possible to measure the effect of medicine and treatment on that organ. Commercial and research companies are already working in this field. An example of these companies is called Organovo, which was founded in 2007.
Now you know that 3D design is not only used in making 3D NFT or popular and best-selling animations or 3D Facebook photos. Many efforts are underway to use 3D printers to save human lives. Efforts that researchers hope will one day come to fruition and improve life for many people.
I hope your opinion has changed and reading this article has made you look at 3D design differently. Because now you know that 3D design and progress in 3D printing technology bring hope to many people.