Scientists 3D Print Skin and Bone for Astronauts

A smart group of scientists from the University Hospital of Dresden Technical University (TUD) in Germany has been able to successfully print skin and bone samples for astronauts planning to visit Mars.

Scientists 3D Print Skin and Bone for Astronauts 1

The purpose of the 3d printed bone and skin is to see if the astronauts in space would be able to use the technology in low-gravity environments such as Mars. It is also to aid those who become injured whilst out in space or on the ship.
The research into whether or not bones and skin can be printed for astronauts in Mars is part of the European Space Agency’s 3D Printing of Living Tissue for Space Exploration project.

The European Space Agency’s mission is to explore different ways astronauts could recover from injuries in distant places in our solar system — like Mars or deep space, because, well, we all know that there aren’t doctors and hospitals in Mars or in space in general.

You can find more information on this fascinating project here.

How Did They Do it?

In order for the scientists to be able to print human skin that wasn’t likely to cause a nasty reaction, the skin sample was printed using human blood plasma as a “bio-ink.” Image result for bio ink
The researchers then went on to add some plant and algae-based materials to increase the viscosity so it wouldn’t just float around everywhere in low gravity.

“Producing the bone sample involved printing human stem cells with a similar bio-ink composition, with the addition of a calcium phosphate bone cement as a structure-supporting material, which is subsequently absorbed during the growth phase,” said Nieves Cubo, who is the bioprinting specialist at the university.

Most of the raw materials, such as blood plasma, would come from the astronauts’ own bodies to protect against transplant rejection or infection.
If the skin or bone implants are made from samples of the patient themselves, then the risk of infection is significantly lowered because it is all from their body anyway.

These bone and skin samples are only the first steps for the ESA’s hearty and ambitious 3D bio-printing project, which as we said are researching and studying to find out what it would take to equip astronauts with medical and surgical facilities to help them survive and treat injuries caused on long spaceflights and on Mars.


Taking Technology Out of This World

3D bioprinting is becoming progressively steadier and more reliable and safe as time goes on, so it only makes sense that we are able to take this technology that we are coming close to perfecting and making the most out of it.

Image result for 3d printed skin

ESA’s project is already looking ahead to normalising the 3D printing of entire organs to fit space conditions. Just this year, we’ve seen many advances in the 3d printing industry. We’ve seen a tiny heart from human tissue, 3d printed bones and a breathing lung air sac.

It is amazing to see how 3d printing is playing such a revolutionary role in not only the future but the future of technology, especially in the field of medical science. With improvements in 3d printing technology and now being able to print skin and bone samples, it makes it easier for astronauts travelling throughout space to get back on their feet if they are ever to face an injury or something similar, instead of having to go all the way back home whenever an injury occurs.