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3D handheld skin printer shows potential to heal deep wounds in minutes



The 3D printer is about the size of a shoebox and weighs less than a kilogram, according to researchers working on the device.

A team of Canadian scientists has developed a new form of technology – a portable 3D skin printer – that can heal deep wounds in minutes by evenly printing layers of skin tissue over it.

According to a press release from the University of Toronto, the newly developed 3D printer could work for patients with severe skin sores, in which all three layers (epidermis, dermis, hypodermis) are severely damaged. Once used on an injured patient, the printer reportedly takes two minutes or less to form new tissue and deposit it on the wound. The researchers recently published a paper on the new device in the journal Lab on a Chip

Currently, physicians use split-thickness skin grafting as their usual technique for treating such deep wounds as doctors do to take healthy skin from donors and transplant them to the affected area. Unfortunately, this technique does not always work with patients, as larger wounds require more donor skin to cover all layers. It is more common that such amounts of skin are unavailable, resulting in "poor healing results" due to the portions of the injured skin that remain uncovered.

In a statement, Professor Axel Guenther of the University of Toronto, who worked on the 3D skin printer, said that there are similar solutions currently, though most of them come with more than their fair share of drawbacks.

"Most current 3D bioprecorders are bulky, operate at low speeds, are expensive, and are not compatible with clinical application."

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