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Additive bio-manufacturing: 3D printing for medical recovery and human enhancement

01 August 2018
Additive bio-manufacturing
Biotechnology Innovation Health care
The expectations are high for 3D printing in the medical sector. It is still unclear how this technology will evolve. This report describes the status quo on this issue, and also the challenges it presents for policy-makers.


Additive bio-manufacturing (bio-AM) is defined here as the use of 3D printing for medical purposes or non-therapeutic “human enhancement”, whether they involve the production of biological material or not. It includes any application for rehabilitating, supporting or augmenting biological functionality. The impacts of bioAM are uncertain, and it is not clear which actions may be required to foster responsible development of the technology. 

This study responds to these gaps in our knowledge by describing the state of the art and future development prospects, analysing their wide-ranging impacts - including social, ethical and economic aspects - and identifying key policy challenges along with options to respond to them. Key challenges are to avoid an incoherent, piecemeal adaptation of regulatory frameworks, to support responsible development that improves citizens’ lives, and to foster public participation and citizen-driven innovation. The European RRI approach could provide a useful platform for responding to these challenges, emphasising inclusiveness and co-creation by a wide variety of stakeholder groups, including public participation