3-d Printing Gets: Personal
What do a group of scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and Adidas have in common? Both are utilising 3-d printing in research initiatives that could pave the way for meaningful, personalised products and outcomes.
Led by Dr. Will Shu of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) at Heriot-Watt, a team of researchers have found a way to 3-d print delicate stem cells using a valve-based technique. The gentle process produces sensitive live cultures and is the result of a collaboration with Roslin Cellab, an R&D company that helps to deliver products for the stem cell sector.
The beauty of this bio-printing technology lies in its ability to maintain cell pluripotency, that is, the ability of cells to develop into other types of cells or tissues. It is this characteristic that could lead to a multitude of applications within the medical industries, potentially leading to the elimination of animal testing as researchers make use of these cultures for study instead.
How might 3-d bio-printing be utilised in the development of personalised medicine? What are the implications of these processes on organ transplants and donation?
Adidas’ Futurecraft series features the use of 3-d scanning technology to produce customised shoe soles that are specific to the contours of a person’s feet. The open-source initiative sees Adidas partnering with various specialists, starting with 3-d printing company Materialise for this initial venture. Constructed from latticed layers, the Futurecraft soles are an example of the possibilities of personalised mass production.
What would it look like if we could get our shoes custom 3-d printed in-store, with soles tailored to the shape of our feet for better support? How would this impact product life cycles?