3D printers can turn ideas into physical objects in a matter of minutes, allowing the creation of everything from toys and jewelry to tissues and blood vessels.
Jordan Miller, a professor at Rice University who is working on the use of 3D printing to create blood vessels, brought his printer to Capitol Hill last week to show congress the revolutionary potential of 3D printing technology.
Miller’s demonstration was part of an event that was hosted by Rep. Mark Takano of California, and consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge.
“That’s kind of amazing that it could actually print the cells and create maybe certain types of tissues,” Takano said about Miller’s device. “That’s fascinating.”
Miller’s 3D printed blood vessels are a reflection of the work that is being done by scientists who are working towards ways to print organs such as livers. While printing organs that are suitable for transplants could be years or even decades away, the technology allows for an extreme level of customization that is required to make printing organs a possibility.
Lawmakers are beginning to take note of the new technology, and a small group of congressional representatives hope to ensure that laws are put into place that will allow 3D printing technology to continue to develop.
“3D printing is a technology on the cusp of a major breakthrough that will create jobs, contribute to STEM education and change the average consumers purchasing habits,” Takano added. “It’s Congress’s job to see this positive trend coming and encourage it.”