The Inquiry Project: Week #3

Proposal with Research Question, Reflection on 3 Sources, and Call for Responses

After committing to the topic of Internet privacy I found myself skimming through countless articles and finding a lot of interesting subtopics. These subtopics were perfect for the Inquiry Project but they were not sparking any questions. Flyzilla1 in his Concept Experience #3 blog post said, “a good research topic brings more question than answers in the early stages,” which I agree with 100%. When I continued my research on Internet privacy I narrowed it down to Facebook Privacy but all I was getting was answers. I didn’t want to just reiterate what was said in that article in my project. I wanted to do more research, find answers, and explore the topic.

After taking a day to think about a sincere topic I know will intrigue my inner thought and do more research on, I came to the conclusion of choosing the topic of 3-D printing and its application to the medical field. I am a Pre-Med student that hopes to make it far in the field. I have always had a passion for the medical field and thought that this was a great chance to gain an even greater understanding of the medical field’s versatility. I also chose this topic because it is new and there are many questions that have not been answered yet.

My Question: How is 3-D printing able to revolutionize the medical field and save numerous lives?

Heuristic: I am studying 3-D printing because I want to find out why it is going to be a critical element to the medical field in order to help my readers understand its importance for the future of health care.

In my research I found a lot of eye opening information. Lets start first with 3-D printing or additive manufacturing, which is any of the various processes of making a three-dimensional object from a 3-D model or other electronic data source primarily through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. Biomedical engineers have integrated this process to preform 3-D prints of organs and other prints that benefit the body.

biopolymer splint

Think about breathing a function most of us take for granted. In this article Garret, a 16-month-old baby boy was born with a weak, soft cartilage in his windpipe. The rare condition is called tracheobronchomalacia which causes him to stop breathing at moment’s notice. Luckily recent development in 3-D printing has allowed Garrett to breathe again! Two men a biomedical engineer and trachea specialist created a splint to hold open his windpipe until it is strong enough to work independently. That is not even the amazing part, the material these two men used to print the that splint will soon dissolve until his trachea gets strong enough!

Lets move on to bigger objects of the body, organs. In the United States more that 121,000 people are waiting for organ transplants, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network in this article. There is no way all of these people are going to get transplants in time to treat there illness. Again thanks to new advancements in 3-D printing they are able to save lives. Also called bioprinting, biomedical engineers are able to make organs using tissue grown outside the human body. With this innovation to 3-D printing they are able to print a variety of tissues including lung, bone, peripheral nerve, cardiac and skeletal muscle, and blood vessel.

All of those are helpful but the biggest project yet is making a full functional human heart as stated in this article. It may sound far-fetched, but scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer. The ultimate goal is to create a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted and work together as they do in a normal heart. So far they have already printed human heart valves and small veins with cells. When all the parts are printed it will be called a bioficial heart, a blend of natural and artificial. The overall goal is to make the heart out of material that will not reject by the body.

3-D printing has come a long way in its small span of being integrated into the medical field and is still improving as we speak!

CALL FOR RESPONSES:

Is this topic specific enough for this Inquiry project?

Are there any questions you have about the topic?

Is there anything else that is important that I should touch on?

Did you know this existed?

Would you feel comfortable with a loved one getting one of these transplants or would you rather them wait?

Do you think there will be a lot of debate on a topic like this or do you think people will be full go toward it?

9 thoughts on “The Inquiry Project: Week #3

  1. That is such an interesting topic! I never knew there could be a mix between 3D printing and the medical field. When I think of 3D printing, I think of this machine my classroom had back in high school when I took introduction to engineering, it was actually really fun. Weirdly enough, I did not complete one of the assignments where we actually got to print something, I think it was senioritis but this topic is so interesting because it is different from what a lot of people are doing. I look forward to reading more on your topic!

  2. -Is this topic specific enough for this Inquiry project?
    Yep!

    -Are there any questions you have about the topic?
    I’d like to know about the longevity of 3D-printed organs and parts, though I imagine there’s not a lot of information about it.

    -Is there anything else that is important that I should touch on?
    Nope! I think it’s a nice progression, from current uses to possible uses to far-in-the-future hopes.

    -Did you know this existed?
    No, but it doesn’t surprise me. They 3D-print everything…

    -Would you feel comfortable with a loved one getting one of these transplants or would you rather them wait?
    I think it’d be okay, but I’d want them to watch for side effects and be prepared to need a replacement…which kind of makes people sound like cars.

    -Do you think there will be a lot of debate on a topic like this or do you think people will be full go toward it?
    I’m sure someone will find a way to argue with it. They always do. “Against nature” and all that.

  3. I love your topic! I’m a pre-med student as well so this is really interesting and relevant to me.
    Is this topic specific enough for this Inquiry project?
    I think so, yes.
    Are there any questions you have about the topic?
    I’m interested in the advancements that are being made and how this technology actually works.
    Is there anything else that is important that I should touch on?
    I’m sure there is controversy surrounding this technology, and I think that would be worth exploring even if you don’t decide to include it in your paper.
    Did you know this existed?
    Yes
    Would you feel comfortable with a loved one getting one of these transplants or would you rather them wait?
    I would definitely feel comfortable with one of these transplants.
    Do you think there will be a lot of debate on a topic like this or do you think people will be full go toward it?
    I’m sure there is debate going on right now, but I’m not sure what it is!

  4. Sounds like there’s a lot of information for this topic.

    What’s the process and materials exactly for this? Does this involve stem cells?

    Maybe specifically how it works, I have no idea what this thing does and I’ve never heard of this being used in the medical field. Sounds like it has potential though.

    I probably wouldn’t feel completely comfortable with this technology right away or without knowing the specifics.

    • No it does not involve stem cells although it could in future research? The process for this is either using artificial material of the doctors choosing to make things so that the body can function properly. Engineers and doctors can also choose to grow cells outside of the body and use that to print a certain object so that the body does not reject it.

  5. The technology has already been used for splints, valves and even a human ear — according to one of the sources you linked to! I had no idea this technology was advancing so rapidly. The thought that we will be able to generate organs — it seems so futuristic. I think that stem cells have indeed shown promise in generating new organs. But is this under the same topic as your research question? (What exactly is 3D printing? We think of actual “printers” as we knew them — and I’m sure this is a misconception. But do you understand / can you explain how it works to me?)
    I can tell by your commenters that this topic is of great interest to all of us. This is our future medicine! As you research, think about how you will form an argument — and not just report on all the new “stuff” they are doing, right? (Of course, you’ll need to understand the new advances). What roadblocks are researchers facing — pay attention to the hurdles in the technology because they may help you formulate an argument.

    • Yes the stem cell topic was a bit off from my research question but I thought it was a vital branch of my research. 3D printing is the just the process of being able to print objects with precise instructions in 3D form. 3D printing in the medical field is being able to manipulate the substance along with the structure that is being printed.

      When printing organs they use a gel substance that holds cells in them so that they can grow, multiply and link together.

      In my research I will continue to look at an argumentative side of this advancement. Thank you for that input professor!

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