3d printing prosthetics environment 3D printing medicine biotechnology food 3d printing biomedicine 3D scanning medicine architecture food art modelling sustainability prototyping toys housing animals news architecture robots stereolithography forensics military accessibility laser scanning military bioprinting stereolithography solar cells printed food prosthetics sustainability model making biomedicine rapid prototyping vacuum casting crime miniatures 3D scanning electronics drones body parts rapid prototyping selfies CGI robotics creative vehicles animal prosthetics transport costume archaeology multi-material printing medical supplies artificial intelligence lego renewable energy 4D printing developing world tips ornaments filament decoration interior design starter guide cosplay fishing september contact digitising conservation jobs Voxel8 3d printing news bioprinting construction office politics interviews careers 3d printed selfies creative business CV UV resin Carbon3D CG TCFG MultiFab printer packaging developing countries personalisation smartphone technology apps laser scanners assistive technology tabletop sports 3d scanning october instruments gaming music smartphones biomimicry space F1 history animated film film industry masks study education art castles culinary fashion bridge oven motorbikes printed buildings engineering gun plastic surgery glass robots cycling archaeology materials surgery ProJet MJP 3600 Printer surgery Great Barrier Reef guns stem cells bioethics firearms dangers Trump Skyscrapers trainers farming home design mattel climate change instruments jewelry replacement teeth prototyping restoration preservation conservation cosmetics drones medical applications design nanotechnology biodiversity oceans bones agriculture sweets 3Doodler developing world materials off-grid fitness money humanitarian aid animal testing amazon baldness cure hydroponics halloween printable objects ocean exploration pets innovation star wars fashion creative process 3D printing planning design software vehicles drugs printers obama van gogh houses short-run production prototypes modular architecture printed housing short run productions Escher cars automotive 3D printed furniture 3D skulls and pumpkins 3D printed jack-o-lantern competition Amazon 3D Printing Store 3D vases 3D printed weapons 3D printed dog noses spooky selfies quadcopter project electronics musical instruments 3d Printing 3D printing and heart surgery replica pet models 3D printing women's makeup printing lipstick household appliance recycling animal figures bjarki hallgrimsson 3d printed prototypes tabletop games 3d printer model prototype 3d models traditional model making 3d printed jewelry mini-you fabrication labs UAV body on a chip testable models investment casting vacuum casting 3d printed implants tabletop wargames eco-friendly prototype 3D concept 3d selfies 3d figurines 3d print production wedding cakes 3D glasses chefjet short run productions mantic mars attacks tabletop gaming pizza natural machines astronauts 3D printed chocolate printing plants drill terminator 3D printing industry eyes news dancing robot robotic arm 3D modelling 123D tool suite 3D rendering 3D modelling wood project mosul statue netfabb Hatra 3D models CG modelling metal powder dust creativity workplace hazards digital sculpting digital migration CAD Jar Jar Binks Gollum terminator 2 3D computer graphics cinema live puppeteering Jurassic Park medical technology Alien 3 moon dust moon bases 3D printed laptop 3D printed ergonomic keyboard 3D printed bananas design design thinking 3D printed food 3D printing in space 3D printed urns 3D printed table accessories 3D metal printers 3D metal printing earthquake-proof 3D printed column christmas decorations PD Models interview gifts 3D printed dinosaur 3D printing in mining reprap recyclebot 3d printed mea SWaCH children medical use 3D print show 3D printed prototyping 3D printed mansion motion art mining in space 3D topography maps kinetic art 3D printed sculpture superhero prosthethics 3D printed Batman suit Rolex

The dark side to 3D Printing: The issues of bioethics in 3D bioprinting

The dark side to 3D Printing: The issues of bioethics in 3D bioprinting

In our current series, exploring the potential dark side of 3D printing technology, we have previously explored the dangers of potential criminal gun manufacture using 3D printers. In the following blog post, we will explore the issue of bioethics and 3D printing.

Bioethics and 3D printing

Bioethics is defined as the ethics surrounding medical and biological research. The rapid rise of bioprinting has seen many debates spark up on the topic of bioethics and 3D printing. What are the moral and ethical implications of 3D printing?  Such issues include whether there will be fair access to superior healthcare - will 3D printed medical treatments be easily accessible to all, or just too expensive to provide on a mass scale? Other people raise concerns about the safety of the 3D-printed biomaterial. In addition, other groups ask whether it is ethical to use 3D printed biomaterials at all.

A problem vs a solution

It is fairly easy to argue that 3D printing can potentially offer many needed solutions to current medical problems. For example, in one of our past posts we explored how 3D printers can be used to print off uniquely tailored organs, bones, and other physical matter that will not be rejected by the human body. Imagine a world in which people have easy access to healthy organs and do not have to rely on willing organ donors.

The potential benefits of using 3D printers in medicine are undeniable, but many do raise various dangers that we need to consider.

Issues of cost

3D bio-printing is time-consuming and as a result expensive, as Linda Griffith, Director of the Center of Gynepathology Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains in the Guardian:

"If you 3D print a dress, or a gun, it is pretty easy to tell right away if it works," she said. "The assays to tell whether bioprinting works are really, really time consuming and expensive."

The time-consuming nature of bioprinting may mean that the final product is expensive and can only be afforded by the richest in society; this, of course, brings up a serious ethical issue. If treatment is available, is it right that only some can afford it? Right to life and right to health are two of the most basic human rights and access to good healthcare should be available to all.

Issues of safety

Using 3D printers in medical cases raises some safety concerns, ABC eloquently notes the potential safety issues of 3D printed biomaterial:

“In the future, 3D printing may be used in combination with stem cell derived cell lines. How can we know in advance that these treatments are safe? Unlike the case of developing a new drug, a stem cell therapy can't be tested on a sizable number of healthy people prior to being tested on patients and then, finally, being made available as a standard treatment.”

Unlike traditional medical interventions, 3D-printed medical interventions may be hard to efficiently and swiftly test; there is always the possibility that the printed material may be rejected by the human body.

Moral debates

Although moral arguments are less commonly waged today, some groups of people hold ‘moral’ objections to 3D bioprinting. For example, some religious groups feel that bioprinting is a way for scientists to play God.

On the other side of the debate, bioprinting could effectively help millions of people suffering from serious medical illnesses. So, could we also not argue that we have a moral responsibility to embrace the most sophisticated and effective technologies available to us?

Tagged with: bioprinting, bioethics, stem cells