Author Archives: 01 Spencer Van Deusen

3D Printing – Individual Research

In addition to the design community, 3D printing also has its uses within the biomedical field. There have been significant advances within the past few years that have proven that 3D printing is becoming a more realistic solution to certain problems within the medical setting. Biomedical 3D printing is essentially a blend of engineering, biology, and design. Although the printing process is similar to the standard used within a design profession, the “printable” materials currently being explored within the medical field are completely different. Researchers have shown that it is possible to print bone implants, human tissue, blood vessels, skin cells, and stem cells. Several of these materials have already been successfully used in a medical procedure.

“Imagine being able to recover from a heart attack by replacing your faulty aortic valve with a brand new one, made of your own cells.” (Doug Hendrie)

A lot of the advances made within the medical field have been made possible through teams of researchers. One in particular that I chose to study was the company Organovo. Organovo partnered with Autodesk in 2012 to develop 3D Bioprinting Software. They have since become one of the leading creators and manufacturers of functional, three-dimensional human tissues.  Their 3D bioprinting technology is used to create living human tissues that are three-dimensional, architecturally correct, and made entirely of living human cells. This is made possible with the use of the NovoGen MMX Bioprinter. The printer is loaded with cartridges of “bio-ink” which is a substance that acts essentially as scaffolding for the cells to develop within the structure that is being created. Similar to the process of 3D powder printing, a thin layer of medium is sprayed and adhered one thin layer at a time. A sophisticated computer is linked to the printer that is pre-programmed with the 3D blueprint of whatever is being made. The resulting structures can function like native human tissues, and represent an opportunity for advancement in medical research, drug discovery and development, and in the future, surgical therapies and transplants. Imagine the significance of being able to print a new body part instead of having to take someone else’s or wait until one is available.

Scientists have already successfully printed a human vein and are now looking into the possibility of moving onto larger organs. It no longer seems impractical to think that in the near future instead of used plastics or metals to fix small arteries or heart related defects, doctors could just print real human tissue hours before the procedure. Instead of having to do a skin graft or take veins from other parts of the body, a doctor could just print out new ones.

One question that comes to mind, and could really apply to any field currently using some type of 3D print application is what are the costs associated with the process? Is the technology still so new that it costs a fortune for someone to have new tissue printed? Does it make sense for someone to pay so much when an older method of fixing whatever needs to be taken care of has proven successful time and time again?

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The Al Bahar Towers located in Abu Dhabi feature a dynamic façade that was developed using a parabolic description. The façade is programmed to open and close in response to the movement of the sun in order to reduce glare and solar gain.

The shapes of the individual panels were derived from a popular form of wooden lattice used in traditional Islamic architecture. This traditional technique was developed further in order to be used in a modern and sustainable fashion. The individual panels consist of a system of fiberglass triangles that will help to reduce solar gain by more than 50%.

The individual panels also bare resemblance to acoustic paneling materials used for resonating sound throughout a space. It would be impressive to take such a sustainable design strategy and integrate it into another important system. In this smaller scale application in may not be necessary to use a system of motorized panels.