Japanese scientists say they are on their way to being able to create custom-made skin, bone and joints using a 3-D printer.
Several groups of researchers around the world have developed small masses of tissue for implants, but now they are looking to take the next step and make them functional.
Tsuyoshi Takato, a professor at the University of Tokyo Hospital, said his team had been working to create "a next-generation bio 3-D printer," which would build up thin layers of biomaterials to form custom-made parts.
His team combines stem cells -- the proto-cells that are able to develop into any body part -- and proteins that trigger growth, as well as synthetic substance similar to human collagen.
Using a 3-D printer, they are working on "mimicking the structure of organs" -- such as the hard surface and spongy inside for bones, Takato said.
In just a few hours, the printer crafts an implant using data from a Computer Tomography (CT) scan.
Read more on 3-D-printed body parts on IndustryWeek.