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This insertable 3D printer will repair tissue damage from the inside

It can also make incisions and clean up with water jets.

University of New South Wales, Sydney

Researchers at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, have developed a flexible 3D bioprinter that can layer organic material directly onto organs or tissue. Unlike other bioprinting approaches, this system would only be minimally invasive, perhaps helping to avoid major surgeries or the removal of organs. It sounds like the future — at least in theory — but the research team warns it’s still five to seven years away from human testing.

The printer, dubbed F3DB, has a soft robotic arm that can assemble biomaterials with living cells onto damaged internal organs or tissues. Its snake-like flexible body would enter the body through the mouth or anus, with a pilot / surgeon guiding it toward the injured area using hand gestures. In addition, it has jets that can spray water onto the target area, and its printing nozzle can double as an electric scalpel. The team hopes its multifunctional approach could someday be an all-in-one tool (incising, cleaning and printing) for minimally invasive operations.