Astronaut Christina Koch Services a 3-D Biological Printer

From NASA

NASA astronaut Christina Koch

In this image from Dec. 2019, astronaut Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility (BFF), a 3-D biological printer on the International Space Station. The BFF could become a part of a larger system capable of manufacturing whole, fully functioning human organs from existing patient cells in microgravity.

Learn more about science experiments aboard the station and how it helps improve life on Earth.

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Image Credit: NASA

Last Updated: March 24, 2020

Editor: Yvette Smith

21 thoughts on “Astronaut Christina Koch Services a 3-D Biological Printer

  1. I wonder what sort of fully functioning human organs these girls will be making up there. Maybe there a clue in the name ??

  2. 3d printing is a big deal for the military supply chain. Rather than 50 gazillion spare parts stored in a depot or on a ship, you might need only 25 gazillion plus a 3d printer that can generate parts made of materials like titanium. link I’ve seen figures for inventory reductions up to 90% and that saves big bucks. optimistic?

    Robotic surgery plus 3d printed body parts would make space travel a whole lot more viable.

    • I’m the last person to say “never”, but I will say, “not right now”. As an example, the titanium “Iron Man” suit that was constructed for Adam Savage’s “Savage Builds” show employed 2-3 EOS machines running around the clock for about 6 weeks, according to Colorado School of Mines’ Craig Brice. Per the article, it was about 250 pieces. So, on the low end, 2x24x7x6 or 2,016 hours. That’s about your typical work year and very roughly 10 hours per part. This did not count all the post-processing that was required.
      Definitely not read for prime time. Yet.

      • Yeah, even standard workshop machining of titanium is an art. US aerospace still seems to be highly dependent on Russian titanium foundry and production. One of the few area they have not hit with sanctions so far. Thinking that there is even a glimmer of a hope of battlefield ready titanium 3d printers is frankly a bit absurd.

        Even printing a replacement spanner in the field does not make sense.

        However, if a private gets his privates blow off by an IED, I suppose a field hospital with a working 3D Koch printer could come in handy.

        • In the big hit movie Avatar, the lead protagonist Sully is lured into the Avatar project, because his identical twin brother died, and Sully was war veteran-paraplegic, but he couldn’t “afford” the medical procedures to regrow his spinal connections. They company mining the Unobtanium promised to pay for his spinal repair so he could walk again if he’d play the avatar role of his dead identical twin. Clearly the re-grow procedure was very expensive, and not even available to war heros.

          So even SciFi writers today understand that future medical miracles will be so expensive they will be available only to the privileged few, and not the unwashed masses, i.e. you and me.

      • 3d printed titanium parts are already making their way onto commercial jet aircraft as of a couple of years ago. link

        Sadly, 3d printing is going to make one of my favorite things obsolete. Heavy Press Program

        • I was gong to say something along these lines too, but you got there first. The benefits of 3D printed parts in aircraft are huge. Lighter, easier to make, no machining, stronger.

  3. This is wonderful news! The marriage of cloning technology and 3-D printing could revolutionize medicine.

  4. ah yes, made-to-order organs for the hyper rich elites and political leaders who could afford them. NASA just needs Planned Parenthood to start sending up baby pieces and bits to make brand new parts now.

    • Human spare parts for space travel is like thinking you need an auto first aid kit before you have invented the internal combustion engine.

      • Humanity can’t be rid of that POS fast enough, IMO. It remains to be seen how committed his sons will be after George is gone to continuing his billion-dollar genocidal campaigns on Western democracies and western culture.

  5. I think we might need a few lungs at the moment. maybe they could ramp up production. No explanation why this works better in zero gravity.

  6. Early Computers were out of reach for the common person. Then a few guys in a garage founded Microsoft. Then Apple. Now we have computing as a part of our life. This is science, if you don’t look or reach how do you learn? You may not need Microgravity. As launching gets cheaper though
    effort it maybe cheap enough for the common person. “Per Aruda Ad Astra.” with struggle, to the Stars.
    Or I prefer, No struggle, no Stars, its up to us..

    • It was companies like Intel and Motorola that improved the technology and brought down the price of chips who you need to thank for the fact that home computers are so affordable.

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