If you’re in the market for a replacement ear, how about one of these wonderful little 3D printed ones?
While researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have demonstrated a hydrogel gel-based 3D printed ear before, these little things from Hangzhou Dianzi University in China are made up living tissue. Created using the Regenovo 3D priner, they’re made from layers and layers of live cells.
The ear demonstrates how 3-D printing can seamlessly bring together electronics and biological tissues. Normally, these materials don’t play well together—one is rigid and fractures easily, while the other is soft and flexible. But with 3-D printing, the two can be fabricated together, says McAlpine. “It’s a way you can naturally intertwine everything together into a three-dimensional format,” he says. This could help researchers make body tissues with integrated devices that can monitor health, or even build cyborg organs that augment conventional senses.