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3D Printing and Nursing Care

3D Printing and Nursing Care

Reading about the latest in technological advancements for work, life, and everything in between can sometimes feel like taking in an episode of “The Jetsons.”

While we haven’t achieved the technology for flying cars just yet, there’s another advancement that is taking root in our society that would have been thought of as science fiction not too long ago: three-dimensional printing. As it turns out, 3D printing isn’t just something made up to make tech folks’ fantasies into reality. Everyone—even nurses and other medical professionals—can find beneficial use for this.

What is 3D Printing and How Does It Work in Medicine?

3D printing is a technology that uses a specific combination of human cells, hormones, extracellular matrices, and other materials known as bio-ink in a multi-layered creation that combines to produce a three-dimensional replica. The 3D tissue solid construction has the ability to be as complex and intricate as the tissue of a living human. The technology is based on what’s called the additive process, wherein layers are stacked from top to bottom to create a bioprinted product.

How can 3D Printing be Used in Medicine?

In 1984, the first 3D printing concept was built with industry in mind. Over the last decade and a half, the technology became more refined, affordable, and available, and companies began to experiment with 3D tissue regeneration.

Early medicinal uses for 3D printing revolved around synthetic skin for burn victims and other skin wounds. The successful use of this technology has researchers hopeful about 3D printing to serve patients needing cartilage or bone repair or replacement and even organ transplants, eventually. Researchers believe this may call for the end of organ donation and animal testing.

Like most other advances in medicine that cut down on wait times and reduce the limitations imposed on medical professionals, a successful transition into 3D printing usage in medical situations would conceivably lead to changes in nurses’ roles and responsibilities. Nurses may enjoy increased time to spend devoted to patient care, but will also be required to educate patients accurately and without bias on this potentially controversial option. There may be cultural and/or ethical biases, coming from either the nurse or the patient, that will need to be addressed in full when this technology reaches more patients and healthcare centers.

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