3D printing is enticing for its ability to bring ideas and images into the third dimension, allowing the human imagination to run wild, but it is technology far beyond novelty. 3D printing is used to make parts in engineering, and even as a medical tool. For instance, Newcastle University scientists have used the technology to print the first corneas.
The true to life details captured in the printed corneas were obtained through the scanning of patients’ eyes. The data from the scans allowed the scientists to promptly print a cornea matching the size and shape of the human eyes. The replica corneas were made from human corneal stromal cells mixed with alginate and collagen creating a ‘bio-ink’ that can be used in the 3D printer to produce prosthetic corneas. The scientists accomplished this using a basic 3D bio-printer to transform the bio-ink into printed corneas. The printing process took less than 10 minutes.
Over 10 million people across the globe need surgery to prevent blindness resulting from infections and diseases, but there are not adequate human corneas available to accommodate this need. With the introduction of 3D printing to provide transplant ready corneas means that, if medically approved for widespread use, in the near future there could be a constant supply of corneas. The creation of artificial corneas is an immense achievement for the Newcastle University. Close to 5 million people are completely blind as a result of injury or illness, and with 3D printed corneas available for continuous production, such blindness could be avoided for future generations to come.
It is no easy feat to have an invention approved for medical use, and as a result, the 3D printed corneas will have to be thoroughly tested and perfected before they are ready to use as transplants. Although the corneas are not yet

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