The technology of printing 3D skin has taken a huge step towards becoming a reality. PrintAlive is a compact bio printer that takes a patient’s own skin cells and prints a synthetic reproduction — including hair follicles and sweat glands — all in a package the size of a hardcover book.
The makers of bio-printers hope to make an alternative to painful skin grafts and a more accurate way to test prescription medications. Eventually, they want to print 3D organs.
While PrintAlive has several competitors, their printer is faster, smaller and more cost effective that the rest. The mechanical side of the device is limited to just a single rotating drum that collects the printed tissue, so it should rarely need maintenance and it uses interchangeable bio-ink cartridges.
There’s still research and development to be done and government regulations to work through, so it’ll probably be a few years before printed human skin grafts are happening for real. Let’s all hope David Cronenberg lives long enough to see it.
You can watch a video of the process above.