Somehow 3D printing has gotten even more amazing. Scientists over at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have created a hybrid 3D printer that can create implantable human cartilage.

There are already 3D printers that can create skin for healing wounds, but this particular machine—called a 3D bio-printer—is unique because it marries two techniques, as Institute of Physics explains:

The printer is a combination of two low-cost fabrication techniques: a traditional ink jet printer and an electrospinning machine. Combining these systems allowed the scientists to build a structure made from natural and synthetic materials. Synthetic materials ensure the strength of the construct and natural gel materials provide an environment that promotes cell growth.

Once the fake cartilage is implanted, it can form a porous structure that encourages healthy, natural cartilage to grow around it. The printer is still being tested, but it's had pretty promising results in mice. And anyone who has had a knee injury or any kind of joint problem knows how hard it is to regenerate cartilage. Which is one of the reasons this is so awesome. That and the cartilage comes out of a machine! [Institue of Physics via Gizmag via Engadget via The Verge]

Image credit: Institute of Physics