With the simplest of modifications, a normal ink-jet printer becomes a high-tech 3-D printer, able to build replacement skin for those desperately in need of grafts. The latest breakthrough saw a plastic "ear" being printed out over just a half-hour...and it's only a matter of time before we can do that with skin as well.
A couple research teams have been working on this idea, with a Wake Forest team attracting substantial attention. But this new breakthrough is the work of Cornell researchers, who have devised a simple 3D printer that can combine donor cells and other key materials to create replacement cartilage. Lead researcher Hod Lipson explains what's going on here: