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The U.S. military is reportedly looking into an idea that’s always seemed a little more like something straight out of a science-fiction novel.
The military is reportedly in talks with the University of Nevada to develop 3-D printed “twins” of American soldiers. The concept would require troops’ bodies to be scanned and images stored. Those images, in turn, would assist doctors and surgeons in developing 3-D printed prosthetic body parts should the soldiers ever become wounded in battle, according to 3DPrint.com.
“The idea is to image someone when they are in a healthy state so that the data is available if it’s needed at a later point,” James Mah, a clinical professor at the University of Nevada said.
“We have soldiers who get injured. They lose limbs and other tissues and it’s a challenge to reconstruct them in the field. but if they are imaged beforehand, you can send that over the internet and have a 3D printer in the field to produce the bone,” Mah said.
A similar method is already used among some in the medical field. Medical students, for example, use virtual operating tables that allow them to dissect and operate without ever needed an actual human body in front of them.
The tables are created in much the same way as what the military is reportedly looking to do for wounded veterans. With an X-ray, MRI or ultrasound, an exact replica of a human body can be engraved into the table, thus creating a virtual cadaver.
But this isn’t an entirely new innovation as doctors have been developing 3-D printed body parts for a few years now. In 2013, doctors were able to create a virtual windpipe for a baby born with a rare, life-threatening condition. Another example happened in 2012 when doctors used the technology to give a 2-year-old girl motion back in her arms.
TheBlaze reached out to a Pentagon spokesman asking for more information on existing plans, but no immediate response was received.