Transplantation of body parts may soon become a thing of the past: We’ll either regrow them or we’ll PRINT them.
The idea of printing organs has moved beyond science fiction, as the technology of three-dimensional printing (in which layers of material are laid down one at a time to create a solid object) has improved.
Although they can’t yet print transplantable organs, researchers have used the technique to build layers of cells into living tissues. These tissues can be used to test drugs (instead of using animals–or even humans).
Three-dimensional manufacturing is making something out of practically nothing. People are buying these printers at a rapid rate–one New York outlet that sells 3-D printers sold 15,000 of them last year.
But it won’t be that way for long: When "three-dimensional assemblers" become practical, they will be able to replicate themselves, eliminating shipping costs.
We may use inflatables to create an extension for the ISS, but when we build on the moon (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), we want something more permanent: While an inflatable structure could be transported from Earth, it would then need to be covered with a shell built by 3D printers, and the shell would be constructed from material already on the moon’s surface.