French cosmetics brand L’Oreal produces 100,000 skin samples a year on which to test its products. Currently, the brand grows and analyzes skin samples donated by plastic surgery patients, and carefully cultivates nine skin varieties, but the process is reliant upon sixty scientists managing an incredibly precarious environment. Now, L’Oreal have teamed up with bioprinting startup Organovo to begin introducing 3D printing technology into the process. That automation would enable them to dramatically speed up the one week growth time.
The partnership will see L’Oreal providing skin expertise and funding, while Organovo provide the technology. Skin production is a lucrative business for L’Oreal — who sell about half of their samples to cosmetics competitors and pharmaceutical companies. The research is expected to enable L’Oreal to use 3D printed skin within five years, with Organovo able to make use of tissue models for testing of prescription drugs and other non-cosmetic products.
Are there other ways in which 3D printed skin be utilized?