Who among you sleeps on a memory foam mattress made of latex foam?
I don't want to know if you feel comfortable or not (I do): just know that in the future a similar material could be used to create artificial body parts. A team of Cornell University researchers used their new "elastomer foam" to make a pump that looks and functions similar to that of a human heart.
Elastic silicone foam can be molded to any shape through a process similar to that of 3D printing.
Once stabilized, the material is very soft and elastic: it can be stretched over 600%, and its micro pores allow liquids to pass through it: the density of these tiny holes can also be 'adjusted' to change the pressure liquids flowing inside. Another extraordinary feature: the material can be made to achieve a desired shape when subjected to pressure. For example, a spherical object can become oval when filled with water or air.
To shape the material into a heart shape (except the ventricles), the scientists built a carbon fiber 'skeleton' around which the material was 'poured'. It is a very rapid process, which would allow to make hearts (or other parts of the body) perfectly capable of adapting to the characteristics of each individual.
Researchers have already started building a hand with the same technique, while working to make the material completely biocompatible and therefore approved by the medical authorities.
Gianluca's note: this research opens up the future possibility of printing organs and body parts "on demand" customized according to the appearance of each one.