Layer by layer, the machines churn out everything from jewelry to engineering prototypes.
But 3-D printer-developed medical advancements have not made their way to the region yet. And there is no sign of it arriving soon.
He said there may be specific and limited areas of medicine in which tissues or implants using 3-D printing might be available for use.
"Prosthetic limb coverings made using 3-D printing could provide prosthetic limbs that cosmetically resemble the patient's own skin tone and texture," Sparks said.
He estimated 3-D printing of dental implants or dentures could be available in less than 10 years.
"Bottom line is, this new technology has some distance to cover before it can be widely adopted, but it is an exciting new technology with high potential for eventually transforming several areas of medicine," Sparks said.
The printers are in use at the university level.
"We're using a 3-D printer to create assistive technologies for a blind student to perform cellular biology lab experiments more independently," he said. "Our current 3-D prints are tools to help her to more accurately add and remove liquids and manipulate glass cover slips from well plates more cleanly in a sterile environment, so as to prevent contamination of possible cell cultures."
"We plan on using it much more extensively to develop other assistive technologies," Duerstock said.
"We use the printer primarily in our senior design course but also sometimes to prototype parts we are creating for research purposes," he said.
Their printer has not been used in connection with the health industry or development of medical devices, he said.
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