While some industry experts have spelled doom for the global printing industry, others remain consistently focused on the future. And that is precisely the sort of attitude that researchers at Cornell University have held in developing a new device that can literally print 3D body parts.
"Instead of printing with plastic, you could actually print with biological materials to make three dimensional tissue constructs," Hod Lipson, director of Cornell's Computational Synthesis Laboratory, told the BBC. "Cells from you would be harvested, incubated, cultured and then the inks prepared to re-fabricate the part that is missing or broken."
Lipson added that this technology could become a reality, perhaps even mainstream, within 20 years.
Of course, this is a radically different technology than traditional printing, but it serves as a good example of how traditional, historic or even ancient technologies have the power to influence cutting-edge innovations and breakthroughs.
Then again, who is to say our current print industry will not evolve into something almost unrecognizable by contemporary standards? Perhaps 3D printing of human body parts is merely an extension of off-set or moveable type printing. Only time will tell.