With the help of a 3D printer, mini human organs can come in all shapes and sizes. In this video, a cluster of tiny hearts – shown on the right – beat in sync, and another pulsing heart is fused with a spherical, darker-coloured liver. Developed by Anthony Atala and his team at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the mini-organs represent the first step in developing an entire human body on a chip. The hearts were created by reprogramming human skin cells into heart cells, which were then clumped together in a cell culture. A 3D printer was then used to give them the desired shape and size – in this case, a diameter of 0.25 millimetres.
[A giant 3D printer at work at WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company
in Shanghai, China]
Running at full speed, the company’s printer is capable of producing up to ten 650 sq. foot homes in just 24 hours. Measuring in at roughly 105 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 21 feet tall, this hulking 3D printer works almost exactly like a normal one — just on a much larger scale. It pumps a special type of pre-mixed concrete through a nozzle and onto a flat substrate in a pattern designed to give the finished house as much structural integrity as possible. Layer by layer, the house’s walls are built, and once the concrete dries, the house is outfitted with doors, windows, and a shingled roof.