There's no need to elaborate on the benefits of 3D printing in medicine. While transplants will remain the most practical option for replacing whole organs, lab-constructed replicas for simpler body parts are making significant inroads every year. Australia, or more accurately, Queensland, will take a massive step towards being a world leader in this burgeoning field come 2017, when the Herston Biofabrication Institute opens its doors in Brisbane.
The Institute, a collaborative effort between the Queensland University of Technology and Metro North Hospital and Health Service, will be a one-stop shop for everything related to human tissue manufacturing... and pretty much anything else to do with future medicine, including robot-assisted surgery, robotic endoscopics and bionic limbs.
According to information provided by the QUT, the Institute will "[bring] together researchers from multiple scientific, clinical and industry disciplines" for the purposes of knowledge advancement, education and healthcare.
It won't all be theoretical, however; the Institute will feature "cutting-edge facilities" capable of 3D imaging and printing — essentially everything required to be a "tissue engineering" hub:
3D printing/bio-printing and advanced manufacturing are key future technologies that will revolutionise healthcare. Research in this area aims to produce biologically-relevant, anatomically-precise 3D printed constructs for the repair of damaged or lost patient tissue. This includes the use of customised permanent metallic implants, biodegradable scaffold-based tissue regeneration, and 3D printed personalised prosthetics and bionics.
The early days will likely consists of replacement ears, noses and such, but you have to start somewhere. The alternative is a Logan's Run-type scenario... and we all know how that works out.