Anyone following the manufacturing sector will tell you that one of the most exciting trends is the advent of 3D printing. Using complex software, it is now possible to "print" 3-dimensional objects essentially creating a "desktop factory". It really couldn't be easier - you input the proper calibrations into your computer, feed in the raw materials, and let the high-powered lasers in the printer do the rest. For manufacturing, this is an exciting turn of events - last year, my colleague Mark Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, discussed the enormous potential that 3D printing has for disrupting the manufacturing status quo.
More recently, it's spilled over into the biotech sphere. Autodesk, a CAD-software developer, just entered into a partnership with Organovo, a 3D bioprinting company, to develop software that can create architecturally accurate, living human tissue. Think about that for a second - software that enables the creation of human tissue. This represents a tremendous step forward in medical research. Though the technology is still far away, the logical endpoint is the ability to create replacement human organs or body parts.
There will be many challenges before this kind of technology becomes widely used - many barriers not the least of which are the safety and technological challenges stand in the way. With luck, FDA reform will ensure that regulatory barriers are minimized by then.