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 group 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 make it possible 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 to the future possibility of printing organs and body parts "on demand" customized according to the appearance of each one.