By Caroline Song
David McNamee writes for Medical News Today and recently published the piece “Students produce 3D-printed artificial kidney prototypes.” Chemical engineering students at the University of Connecticut (UConn) have harnessed 3D printing to develop prototypes for artificial kidneys. The idea is not unique to the students. Surgeons in Japan have used 3D printed kidneys for practice. Currently, the only treatments for renal disease are dialysis of an organ transplant. The National Kidney Foundations reports that about 100,000 people are on the waiting list in the United States. Anson Ma, an assistant professor at UConn tasked 2, 3-person teams of chemical engineering students to create artificial kidneys using 3D printing. The design project is meant to motivate students to apply their chemical engineering knowledge to current technology. Each team approached the interior structure of the kidneys in different ways. However, 3D printing is not sophisticated enough to recreate a structure to filter blood. The prototypes are only a kidney shell.
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