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3D printed drugs anyone? The feasibility of making pills using a 3D printer is being studied by a research group at the University of Nottingham in England.
Printing pills could allow doctors to tailor the pharmaceutical make-up of each capsule to individual patients, as well as adding additional beneficial properties, for example applying a coating that would delay the release of a drug for a specific period.
3D printers have also been used to create a scaffold for bone to grow to upon when treating hospital patients.
Professor Dietmar Hutmacher from the University of Queensland in Australia used 3D printing to help repair a hole in a nine year old girl's skull.
The professor took a 3D scan of the girl's skull and used it to design a 3D scaffold that could be placed in the missing piece of her skull.
Inside the scaffold was a precise network of channels that could hold bone cells and allow new tissue to grow. The scaffold was printed using biodegradable materials, which meant after three years it dissolved, leaving new healthy bone that filled in the hole in her skull.
This stainless steel car engine part was created using a laser-sintering 3D printer.
While laser sintering printers are currently one of the priciest variety of 3D fabricators available, they also reduce waste as any unused metal powder can be reused.