Some pretty exciting research using 3D printers is opening doors we never imagined. From cancer treatments to diabetes care and neural therapy, 3D printing is now a part of many research paths leading to truly Personalized medicine. Although the technology is in its infancy, practical applications are already being approved and put into use. For example, doctors at North Colorado Medical Center’s Cancer Institute printed a highly specialized bolus that allowed them to target a radiation treatment for a patient and deliver the right amount of radiation to exactly the right place. Doctors were encouraged by the results and the ease with which the treatment could be applied.
This new technology could help improve the quality of care and even radically change how we treat vexing diseases. And, on the horizon, there are even more inspiring and paradigm-shifting applications. For example, our generation may be the last to have to go through the painstaking process of requesting, receiving, and accepting organ donations thanks to the increase in technical capabilities of 3D printers. Yes, you read that right—the future of transplants lies in printers. Researchers are exploring the concept of implanting cells into printed items and working to fabricate viable, compatible organs. Imagine getting exactly the care you need without the emotionally taxing (and potentially life-threatening) process of waiting on a donor list or, even more tragically, receiving a transplant and having your body reject it. If research progresses, this may be our incredible new reality.