"In case of burns, for example, brand new skin may be bioprinted instead of being grafted from somewhere else on the astronaut's body, making secondary damage that may not cure easily in the orbit", says Tommaso Ghidini, Head of the Division of the European Space Agency, overseeing the project, in a statement.
Scientists were faced with the unique challenges of creating a technique that would still function in gravity. Then the team invented a 3D printing method that would work while on the head. The thickened human blood plasma, which is used for bioprinting skin cells, with plant material so it could function in altered gravity. For 3D printbones, they added calcium phosphate bone cement to printed human stem cells. The calcium phosphate acts as a structural support material and is absorbed by the body as the bone grows.
The tests are just the first steps of a long journey to make this type of 3D print ready. An independent spacecraft can only hold so much. The project examines the types of indoor facilities to be used, such as surgical spaces and equipment, for the astronauts themselves to perform 3D bioprinting. For a look at how the team at ESA was able to create bioprinted skin and bones, take a look at the videos below.