Swap Your Bones for an Improved, 3D-Printed Version

Alice Fumey
March 21st 2013

3D printing technology is improving quickly. The applications of these revolutionary devices are obvious regarding medicine and body science. Scientists have already created 3D-printed ears. It may be that more complex organs are only a few years away.

The medical applications are clear, but what if we thought about 3D organ printing in a more cosmetic way ? Nowadays, piercings and tattoos are not limited just to rebels, but are popular for many people. On the more extreme end, subdermal implants have appeared too, borrowing both from plastic surgery and from piercing. Changing your outside apparence is a common practice. But we could use 3D printing to change our inside appearance too.


Many tattooed or pierced people say that the artwork they have on their skin is just meant for them, and that they really don't care society's opinion of it. This outlook would even be more true in the case of an inside aesthetic change that no one could see without the help of X-rays.

In the future, when 3D printers are able to print real organs, we can imagine that we could, for instance, design a leg bone like we would design a tattoo. A graphic designer would sculpt the bone in a 3D modeling program and print it, and a surgeon would replace your real bone with the new, improved one. Of course, you could always keep your original bone, in case you needed to swap it back.

This uniquely shaped bone would be meant only for you, unless X-rays machines become more widespread in reaction to this fashion. New bones might even become the secret mark of belonging to a group, like tattoos have been for thousands of years. The only difference is that only a select few would know that you belong to the Tribe of the 3D-Printed Bones.

Top image created by Corentin Bachelet. Bottom image by the author.

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What is your view on the coronavirus?

Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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