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3D Printing Produces Unlimited Varieties of Human Organs and Tissues

From Trinkets to Brains

Back in the 1990s, Americans first heard in the media about capillary beds that were printed from simple computer printers, including printers made for home use.

In 2016, 3D computers could make practically anything. Home units were selling well and public libraries began offering a 3D printer and materials to the public with which to create toys, figurines, chess pieces, and large items.

Soon, we may be able to 3D bio-print all the organs and tissues needed to assemble a human or animal body.

Currently, the major end-users of bioprinting technologies are universities and research institutes, paving the way for future users in the medical field, like hospitals that will require bioprinters in their operating rooms (ORs).

—; February 16, 2021

Inkjet Blood Vessels

While we heard about printing out blood cells in the 1990s, it was not until 2002 that this notion was seriously addressed. If you recall, Professor Makoto Nakamura observed that small drops inkjet printer inks approach the size of human tissue cells.

The professor tinkered with inkjet printers until he has a technology in 2008 that was perhaps the first bio-printer. With it, he printed some bio-tubing that came out like a capillary. The world was on its way to bio-printing additional tissues and organs.

The Printed Capillary

The human brain has been almost completely mapped and plans in 2016 called for 3D printing an entire such brain

— Reference: Business Insider; July 20, 2016.

Brain Replacements and Transplants Since the 1960s

The scientific world produced speculative remarks about human brain and head transplants during the summer of 2016. Too much of the public, this notion sounds like science fiction or rubbish. Still, some of the skeptics would like to preserve and use their brains as long as possible, perhaps even inside a new body. In the 2010s, we do not know yet whether this is possible.

During the early 1960s, Soviet Union scientists were experimenting with brain transplants and news of this came back to America, but was not widely disseminated in the media. A few schools received the information from visiting professors and Russian teachers. One experiment involved transplanting a portion of a dog's brain into a human brain, but the dog brain tissue died.

Little has been accomplished in brain transplantation worldwide to date, but brain human mapping is nearly complete. This may be a first step toward rejuvenating or replacing portions of damaged brains.


In speculative and science fiction, the author Cordwainer Smith (Professor Paul Linebarger) wrote of developing new brain tissues via melding of human and animal brains in his stories of the IOM (Instrumentality of Mankind). Written in the early 1960s, these stories may be based in the news of the Soviet brain transplant research.

The Italian scientist, Dr. Sergio Canavero, announced that he may be able to conduct a head transplant in 2017 for a willing Russian man. At the same time, bio-printing companies the world over seek to create viable brain tissues.

Regenerative Medicine Since World War II

Regenerative medicine is the study and practice of helping human beings replace or regenerate damaged or missing parts of their bodies.

In medical and biology classes, we heard of early regeneration studies in France in the 1940s during World War II. These were animal based studies conducted to determine how missing arms and legs could eventually be regenerated for human war victims.

To our knowledge, the closest the French came to complete regeneration is the scenario in which a rat's front leg was severed. A few toes grew on the stump of one rat at least, and another such rat reportedly grew a complete foot on the leg stump (analogous to the human shoulder). We have no documentation of reasons for the length of the leg not growing back between the "shoulder" and the new foot or toes.

After the 1940s, the French studies ended; but today, many nations are perfecting the regeneration of spinal nerves in humans. In addition, the scientists of these countries are perfecting not only prostheses for humans and animals - even dolphins - but perfecting ways of growing completely new organs from stem cells and other biological materials. One way of "growing" a new organ is to print it from a computerized printer in thin layers.

Not only can new tissues be printed in ever increasing sizes as the science evolves, but through using CT and MRI scans, medical scientists will soon be able to print individualized tissues that will fit the patient like a missing puzzle piece.

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3D Printer Developed in 1984

The term "1984" is the title of the famous novel of warning from George Orwell. It is also a year of many inventions. The Super Bowl ads of that year emphasized the new personal computers.

Later in 1984, the first 3D printer was developed for manufacturing applications. In several years, a simple personal PC printer was used to print out blood cells.

Charles Hull, a co-founder of 3D Systems, invented the 3D printer. The first organs were printed in this technique in Wake Forest, North Carolina in 1999. Today, the regenerative medicine program at Wake Forest Baptist Research and Teaching Hospital is part of the Biomedical and Bio-engineering Departments and Graduate Schools of Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. Human and animal tissue and organ production and replacement are some of its top specialties.

Now we can print organs and purchase a 3D printer for home use on small projects. Some public libraries even have them, including the Westerville Public Library in Central Ohio.

What is Your Opinion?

Top Rated Bio-Engineering Companies That Bioprint

Company NameWhat Bioprinter MakesPlace/Comment


Bioficial tissues via bio-ink: liver and kidney tissues

San Diego. Printed the first blood vessel.

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

A multitude of different human tissues.

North Carolina

Cyfuse Biomedical/Regenova

Nerves, blood vesses, skin, several organs, eye tissues, bone, cartilage.

Tokyo and San Diego


Desktop bioprinters and bio-inks.


Stanford Univeristy

Artificial skin since 2010; embedded sesors send "touch" feeling to human brains.

Stanford, California



University of Toronto

Aspect Biosystems

Several human tissues.

Univeristy of British Columbia

3D Bioprinting Solutions

Organs, beginning with thyroid glands.

Russia and USA



South Korea


Breast tissue, heart and lung tissues, wound healing.


TeVido Nanodevices

Nipple tissue


3Dynamic Systems

Bone tissue and regenerative medicine.

Swansea University, United Kingdom

Modern Meadow

Bioprinting leather and meat.



Skull and jaw/face repair, female pelvic diaphragm repair, urethra repair, hernia repair, artificial skin, blood vessels, and ligaments.

Frankfurt am Main, GermanyChina

Dr. Gabor Forgacs's Work at Oraganovo

Life is the biggest mystery of our generation.

— Biobots motto

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 28, 2018:

Hi Peggy: I like the idea of printing parts of, or whole organs when none are available for transplant. This will all be great if not abused somehow - like overcharging patients for parts like some auto garages.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 27, 2018:

3D Printing has come a long way since its inception. I think it is great if it is used to help with prosthesis and even more exciting if it can be proven to regenerate missing parts. The future looks bright. Science fiction seems to be coming closer to reality with each passing year.

tonyon on November 12, 2017:

Nobel Prize physiology 2017... 3D Bioprinting-Immortality (biological timers)... Forever young with modified Biological Timers... Which are the biological timers?, where are them? (genes, hypothalamus...), how functioning them?, how can modify them (telomerase...) for maintenance the hormones production, enzymes, cellular regeneration...all Eternity at same level of the 18 years old?... Have to accelerate Research about Memory and the Space´s Colonization... Immortality comes...

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 25, 2016:

Lawrence - I think replacing parts of a human brain will be risky, notably I think that if a certain threshold of brain area is replaced, we'll get a different person after replacement. Such a replacement may tell us that the soul or spirit is indeed in the brain, but it's a dreadful way of proof. Will it be murder?

Lawrence Hebb on October 25, 2016:


These things are amazing, but they also open a whole 'can of worms' with what you talk about regarding some of these procedures.

Using stem cells to 'regenerate' body parts is amazing, by the way skin grafts during ww2 would probably be regarded as the first 'organ regeneration'.

The 'can of worms' is with the idea of replacing parts of the brain, that leads to the question, "Is the soul seperate to brain function?"

Just a thought.


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 13, 2016:

Hi robertatalioni -- I just also saw a picture of a man who had a double arm transplant in Ohio (pretty neat!). Head transplants seem unwieldy and not sure to work, so that one will be hard to accept. on October 13, 2016:

These developments are interesting. We live in amazing time but progress with prosthesis certainly seem much more possible than head transplants.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 03, 2016:

@teaches12345 - I think the inventions we are referencing would be a miracle for people who were exposed to health hazards through no choice of their own - like Tom Brokaw exposed to radiation as a child when the govt did nuclear tests, like people who were exposed to second hand smoke and pollution as children, like employees exposed to hazardous chemicals that lead to cancer (the newest of which would be the tar sands coming through the Keystone XL Pipeline). These people don't deserve to be sick.

Dianna Mendez on October 03, 2016:

I've seen a few 3D printing creations and they are quite well done. I am amazed about the technology advancement in organs and tissues. I believe this would benefit many but would like to see more research and results. Thanks for the education, very interesting to read.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 26, 2016:

@FlourishAnyway - That is a miracle! Much success to your daughter, the other students, and the school and faculty. It is also gratifying to hear about people being helped at no cost.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 26, 2016:

Great hub and it is a reality. My daughter is a high school engineering student in a Governor's Academy and is working on a 3D hand prosthesis for a specific person, as are other students. It's incredible to see them put their knowledge into action at no cost to the recipient.

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