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Get ready for 3D printed customised pizza!

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New York: We might soon be getting highly customised 3D-printed food items to eat. The technology is poised to be widely used in the food industry in the next 20 years to customise foods and expedite delivery of food to consumers, shows new research.

“No matter what field you are in, this technology will worm its way in,” said Hod Lipson, a professor of engineering at Columbia University and a co-author of the book ‘Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing’.

“The technology is getting faster, cheaper and better by the minute. Food printing could be the killer app for 3D printing,” he added.

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Lipson put forth his observations at ‘IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation’ held recently in Chicago.

He said 3D printing is a good fit for the food industry because it allows manufacturers to bring complexity and variety to consumers at a low cost.

For example, users could choose from a large online database of recipes, put a cartridge with the ingredients into their 3D printer at home, and it would create the dish just for that person, Lipson said.

The user could customise it to include extra nutrients or replace one ingredient with another.

Anshul Dubey, research and development senior manager at PepsiCo, said 3D printing already is having an impact within the company, even though it is not yet being used to make food.

For example, consumer focus groups were shown 3D-printed plastic prototypes of different shaped and coloured potato chips. He said using a prototype such as that, instead of just a picture, elicits a more accurate response from the focus group participants.

The US military is just beginning to research similar uses for 3D food printing, but it would be used on the battlefield instead of in the kitchen, said Mary Scerra, food technologist at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre in Natick, Massachusetts.

She said that by 2025 or 2030, the military envisions using 3D printing to customise meals for soldiers that taste good, are nutrient-dense, and could be tailored to a soldier’s particular needs.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting if they could just print and eat,” Scerra said. (IANS)

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Tiny Pacemakers Could Be Game Changers for Heart Patients

A pacemaker is a medical device which uses electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contracting the heart muscles, to regulate the beating of the heart

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The tiny pacemakers are not right for all patients, but as the technology develops, more people will be able to benefit from the procedure.
The tiny pacemakers are not right for all patients, but as the technology develops, more people will be able to benefit from the procedure. Wikimedia Commons

Tiny, new pacemakers are making headway around the world. One type, the Micra, is keeping 15,000 people’s hearts beating in 40 countries, according to manufacturer Medtronic. One of those people is Mary Lou Trejo, a senior citizen who lives in Ohio.

A healthy heart has its own pacemaker that establishes its rhythm, but people like Trejo need the help of an artificial device.

Trejo comes from a family with a history of heart disease. Her heart skipped beats, and she could feel it going out of rhythm. Trejo wanted to do something to advance heart health, so in 2014, she volunteered to participate in a clinical trial for the Micra pacemaker. The device is 24 millimetres long implanted, one-tenth the size of traditional pacemakers.

Traditional pacemakers

Most pacemakers rely on batteries placed under the skin, usually just below the collarbone. Sometimes patients get infections after the surgery or have difficulty healing from the incision.

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Traditional pacemakers use leads with electrodes on one end that are threaded through blood vessels to connect to the heart. There can be problems with the leads as well.

A healthy heart has its own pacemaker that establishes its rhythm, but people like Trejo need the help of an artificial device.
A healthy heart has its own pacemaker that establishes its rhythm, but people like Trejo need the help of an artificial device. Wikimedia Commons

Dr Ralph Augostini at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center says a tiny pacemaker like the Micra avoids all of these problems.

“The electrodes are part of the can, and therefore it eliminates the lead,” he said. There’s no incision in the chest to become infected and no chance of complications with the leads.

Small and self-contained

Augostini implanted Trejo’s pacemaker in 2014. He threaded the entire device through an artery in her leg up to her heart. The pacemaker has small, flexible tines that anchor it into the folds of the heart muscle. Once it’s in place, the doctor gives it a tug to make sure the pacemaker is stable before removing the catheter used to place it in the heart.

The Wexner Medical Center was one of the sites that participated in the Micra clinical trial. Since the Micra received FDA approval in 2016, Medtronic has been training more physicians on the procedure. A company spokesman told VOA that this device is becoming available at other centres across the U.S. and countries throughout the world.

Traditional pacemakers use leads with electrodes on one end that are threaded through blood vessels to connect to the heart.
Traditional pacemakers use leads with electrodes on one end that are threaded through blood vessels to connect to the heart. Wikimedia Commons

Dr John Hummell, a cardiologist at the Wexner Medical Center, has studied the effectiveness of this new generation of pacemakers.

“We don’t leave any wires behind and the pacemaker, the battery, the wire is all just a tiny little piece of metal sitting down in the heart,” he said. Medtronic said the results of the clinical trial showed a success rate of 99.6 percent.

Dr Richard Weachter, with the University of Missouri Health Care, says the leadless pacemakers’ complication rates are about half the rate of traditional pacemakers.

The battery lasts for 14 years and after that, Weachter said, doctors, can implant another one in the same chamber of the heart. They can repeat the procedure a third time if needed.

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The pacemaker activates only when necessary to keep the heart beating normally. Studies show that the Micra and other leadless pacemakers are safe and effective.

These tiny pacemakers are not right for all patients, but as the technology develops, more people will be able to benefit from the procedure. Four years after her implant, Trejo’s doctors say she is doing fine. (VOA)