3D printing has come a long way in the last few years. It can now print virtually anything, from toys to artificial limbs to weapons, and soon enough, human skin.
L’Oreal recently partnered up with bioprinting startup Organovo to start research on 3D printing human skin, which will be used to test the toxicity and efficacy of cosmetics.
The French beauty company will be providing skin expertise and initial funding, while the San Diego-based startup will bring in the needed technology, such as printing kidney and liver tissues.
This development builds on L’Oreals skin manufacturing capabilities, which hopes to eliminate animal testing once and for all. In one of their facilities in Lyon, France, around 60 scientists grow more than 100,000 human tissue samples – each measuring 0.5 square centimetres. Tissues donated by plastic surgery patients are cut and broken down into cells. They are the placed on a tray and fed with a special diet before being incubated in ‘an environment that’s as close as possible to being inside someone’s body’.
After the samples have formed, L’Oreal either uses them for research or sells them – for about $70.62 each – to other companies. Nine skin types are available, and include a range of ethnicities and ages.
With this new partnership, Organovo and L’Oreal hope to speed up this process by automating skin production within the next five years, creating breakthroughs in the cosmetics- and 3D printing- industries.