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3D printing: Turning your home into a drugstore

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With access to a 3D printer, could we print our own medication in the future?

3D printing technology is advancing at a rapid pace -- in the last few years, research has expanded to the point it is now possible to print bones, blood, organs and potentially in the future we may see printable household robots in family homes.

It used to be the case that dedicated facilities built with high time investment and funds were required for these kinds of construction, but 3D printing has even begun emerging in the file-sharing marketplace -- where the general public can download 'physibles' to be printed through a three-dimensional device and built.

Now, it may even be possible to transcend the world of 3D model cars and bones, and to move towards pharmaceutical products.

Researchers based at Glasgow University, UK, have reportedly achieved a breakthrough in three-dimensional printing, making it possible to print items that can initiate chemical reactions -- called "reactionware" -- using specialized design software and 3D printers ready available on the consumer market.

The reactionware contains polymer gel that houses chemical reactions for "organic and inorganic synthesis", and within the research this has resulted in commercial 3D printers being able to produce finished vessels in a few hours. The researchers explain:

"This approach constitutes a relatively cheap, automated and reconfigurable chemical discovery platform that makes techniques from chemical engineering accessible to typical synthetic laboratories."

The printing techniques are in the early stages of development, but the team have already managed to produce anti-cancer drugs using the technology. The scientists hope that eventually the 3D printing methods will be used to produce domestic appliances in the homes of the general public, including medication. The implications of this are wide-ranging, but the technology may be available in the future for personal drug manufacture.

(via Co.Exist)

Image credit: e-MagineArt

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure