It’s no secret that 3D printing is destined to revolutionize how things are done across a large number of industries, but right now, it appears that the practice is opening a new frontier in the medical world: bioprinting living tissue in a matter of seconds.

Until now, 3D printing live cells have been regarded as a complicated and time-consuming procedure. But now, scientists at EPFL and University Medical Center Utrecht have developed an optical system that can bioprint complex, highly viable living tissue in “just a few seconds”. The approach, called volumetric bioprinting, forms tissue by projecting a laser down a spinning tube containing hydrogel full of stem cells. The resulting tissue is then simply shaped by focusing the laser’s energy on specific locations to solidify them, creating a useful 3D shape within seconds.

While this definitely isn’t ready for real-world use just yet, the scientists envision a future where “personalized, functional” organs can be produced at “unprecedented speed”. This could be helpful for implants and repairs and might greatly reduce the temptation to use animal testing, making it as much an ethics breakthrough as it is a technical one.

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