The technique could be used by astronauts to create skin patches or even 3D printed bones while in space
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Scientists at Germany’s University Hospital Dresden (TUD) have developed 3D technology to print skin and bones in space. The project, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), could allow astronauts to receive treatment when needed and without having to return to Earth, according to the scientists.
The method involves using human blood as a “bio-ink” to print the tissue, as this is what astronauts would have in space. In order for the 3D printer to work in zero-gravity, the scientists have made the bio-ink thicker using plants and algae-based additives. The scientists are also researching the potential to bioprint more complex tissues for transplants.
“Carrying enough medical supplies for all possible eventualities would be impossible in the limited space and mass of a spacecraft. Instead, a 3D bioprinting capability will let them respond to medical emergencies as they arise” said Tommaso Ghidini, project lead at ESA.