3D Printing is coming up in the news and research more and more these days. But that just goes to show the versatility of this additive manufacturing technique. The majority of manufacturing up to this point has focused on taking a block of material and removing the parts of it that do not belong, like Michelangelo sculpting the David. New techniques based on adding material have opened a new venue for the creation of products and allowed engineers and scientists to create designs that would have previously been limited by old manufacturing techniques.
One of the cool new applications of the 3D printer idea is for organ creation. Scientists at Princeton University and John Hopkins University have created a 3D printer that can print a human ear. The device first creates a scaffold, something for cells to grow on and maintain shape, out of hydro gel, then it adds cells that will grow and form cartilage that will be the final structure of the ear. Read more about it here.