The age of the band-aid may be coming to an end. Scientists at the University of Toronto have created a new hand-held 3D printer that will allow doctors to print new skin directly on to open wounds of patients. According to the university’s description of the printer, it works very similarly to a roll of tape. The device dispenses“ a microdevice that forms tissue sheets.” Bio ink comprised of protein-based biomaterials like collagen and fibrin runs along the tissue sheets in vertical stripes. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the dermis, and fibrin, another protein, is part of wound healing. Navid Hakimi, study lead author and PhD student, said in the statement, “Our skin printer promises to tailor tissues to specific patients and wound characteristics.”
One of the things that set this new printer apart from the rest is that it will be inexpensive, around the size of a shoebox, and less than 2 lbs in total weight. The researchers also claim that it is very easy to use so there will not be a long training curve when it comes to learning how to operate it.
The current version of the machine is only set up to handle smaller wounds, but later versions are being designed to handle wounds of all shapes and sizes. There is also no word on when this new printer will be available for use in the medical industry, but they are hoping for a clinical trial in the near future.