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Surprising Science

Printing Human Skin

Ink-jet printing technology has inspired scientists to look for ways to build sheets of skin that could one day be used for grafts in burn victims, experts said Sunday.

One technique involves a portable bioprinter that could be carried to wounded soldiers on the battlefield where it would scan the injury, take cells from the patient and print a section of compatible skin. Another uses a three-dimensional printer combining donor cells, biofriendly gel and other materials to build cartilage. The 3-D printer was shown at work, building a prototype of an ear during a half-hour demonstration at a Washington science conference. Hod Lipson of Cornell University in New York said it worked much like an ink-jet printer.


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