A new 3D-printing technique can create tissues as soft as a human’s squishy brain or spongy lungs — something that has not been possible before.
“Additive manufacturing,” or 3D printing, promises to allow doctors to produce tailored organs for patients using the patients’ own cells, which could help bring down the severe shortage of organs available for people who need transplants.
However, the technology still has significant limitations. To create these organs, bioengineers need to 3D print scaffolds that mimic the structure of the organs, which are then populated with the cells. So far, only relatively stiff materials can be 3D-printed. But some organs in the body, such as the brain and the lungs, have an extremely soft structure.