3D printing headAdvances in medical technology have made it possible to interpret x-rays from half way around the world, perform surgery through robots and diagnose dermatological conditions via Skype. Today we are on the cusp of further developments that will allow medical technicians to use 3D printers to generate medical devices, prosthetic limbs, and body parts and organs. While the technology is moving forward rapidly, the societal, ethical and legal debates are only beginning and will need to catch up quickly.

Additives manufacturing or process, a.k.a. 3D printing, provides a method for an object designed on a computer to be “printed” in plastic in a three-dimensional form. I read about this technology in a New York Times story about a new way to manufacture guns to get them past airport security. While this concept is certainly scary, there are obvious potential benefits from this technology in many fields, including the possibility of one of the greatest impacts on the medical community in history.

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