What is the potential of 3D printing in healthcare, and how will it revolutionize the medical field? This is one of the many questions that first inspired me and seized my attention when I began delving into the Making Meaning Matter program. I am still amazed by how cutting edge and truly interesting our texts are for this quarter, I knew this is what I wanted to do and that I was in the right place when I first started reading Makers, by Cory Doctorow, and couldn’t put it down. I’m convinced that this is the next big thing to revolutionize our existence and I am overjoyed to be learning about it, as well as fascinated and motivated to be a part of it.

Not to sound too sappy, but the most influential person in my life has always been my Mom, Kim. She is driven, intelligent, loving, and tenacious. She had me at a a relatively young age by today standards, growing up in Olympia she used to take me to class at Evergreen with her. Of course I don’t remember this, but she has described pulling me around campus as a bundle of blankets in a little, red, radio flyer wagon. After getting her degree from Evergreen Kim went to midwifery school and became a home-birth midwife, which was rough as a child because she would always be on call and have to leave at odd hours, often in the dead of night, to deliver new life. In my middle school years, Kim went back to school at PLU to get her masters as a Nurse Practitioner for many reasons, but mainly because she wanted a broader scope of practice. She worked so hard all those years and I’m incredibly proud of her, and I grew up knowing that like her, I loved helping people. I’ve contemplated going into a healthcare profession, but life took over and I decided I didn’t really have any clue about what I wanted to do or how to get there. Also medical school is a lot of time,  and money, plus I’m squeamish… but who knows what the future has in store for me, right now I’m happy to be moving forward with my education, I’m loving Evergreen, and I’m really interested in 3D printing some bones! I plan on starting small like some teeth, or just a shape that resembles a bone, but I would love to work my way up to a pelvis or skull.

My mind is still trying to grasp the potentials of 3D printing, but I think that medical advances through technology are game changing, and I am hopeful, and somewhat fearful of how we will use this tool to increase or longevity or quality of healthcare. I could see it being possible for people to make 3D printers that can create new bones, and potentially even organic matter like skin or organs for transplants, but what are the ethics surrounding this? Could we 3D print Stem-cells? Could we printing machines that are capable of doing automated medical procedures and surgeries. This is important to me because I grew up learning about the medical field and because I’m curious of how this will impact it, and because I think healthcare is a basic need, yet it is heated topic in modern society because of the economical and ethical state of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.

As I began my research looking for other people who had significant ideas surrounding 3D printing in the medical field I stumbled quite easily on some incredible tales of heartwarming ingenuity. One such article, titled “3D printed heart saves baby’s life as medical technology leaps ahead” tells the the story of a 2-week-old baby who required a complicated heart surgery because the babies heart had holes and the chambers were in an unusual formation like a maze. These issues were due to CHD (Congenital Heart Defects), which is a common defect of the structure of the heart present at birth. Using MRI scan data Morgan Stanley Children Hospital in New York City 3D printed a copy of the child’s heart to act as a sort of road-map. This 3D printed heart allowed for the opportunity to study the riddled, structurally unusual organ, and develop a detailed strategy for the complicated and dangerous surgery. Before this technique, they would have of had to stop the heart and take a look inside to decide what to do, which means more dangerous surgery, and less opportunity for strategic planning. I found several other amazing ideas that had put done with 3D printing technology the medical field, including a 3D printed titanium spinal invertebrate replacement that was porous so natural bone can grow through it over time. I am looking forward to spending a quarter exploring this idea and its manifestations because it has the potential to improve the human condition and because its cool as hell.



Works Cited

22, Aug et al. “How 3D Printing Will Revolutionize Our World.” Business Insider. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

28, Kevin Loria Aug et al. “This 3D Printed Vertebra Is A Huge Step Forward For Medicine.” Business Insider. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

Boren, Zachary Davies. “3D Printed Heart Saves Baby’s Life as Medical Technology Leaps Ahead.” The Independent. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

“Congenital Heart Defects.” Text. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.