Making new body parts with 3D printing

Michael C. McAlpine

Michael McAlpine lectures at Iowa State University, Tuesday 3 Nov 2015.


You can take the Maker out of Minnesota, but Minnesota will still come calling!  Iowa State University hosted a lecture from Professor McAlpine of the University of Minnesota.  McAlpine, a chemist by training, works at the Mechanical Engineering department, and develops 3D printers that are capable of the low-temperature work needed to work with biocompatible polymers and substrates.

Seeking to bridge the gulf between brittle, 2D circuitry and squishy, 3D tissues, his lab has created three-dimensional circuits filled with LEDs, printed 3D ears with integrated receiver coils, laser-activated microreactors, and perhaps coolest of all, 3D-printed silicone nerve conduits.  They don’t take the place of actual nerves, but load them up with neuron growth hormones and the body’s regenerative abilities do the rest!

I’ll have to read up on all this research, but hoo boy, 3D printing is going to create a new career field, the biomechanical CAD modeller, for custom fitted nerves and organs.