To Bioprint or Not to Bioprint

58 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2015 Last revised: 10 Jul 2022

Date Written: December 10, 2014


Recent scholarship on regulating 3D printing implicitly presumes the same regulation should apply to printing from both non-biological materials and biological materials. However, this presumption is mistakenly grounded. Technically, bioprinting is a subcategory of 3D printing. However, printing from biological materials presents different public policy considerations than printing from non-biological materials. When experimenting with mammalian genetic materials, emerging technological and scientific advances attract strong political, regulatory and ethical debates. The societal scrutiny is further heightened when the genetic materials are from humans.

One analyst group speculates a global debate in 2016 as to whether to regulate bioprinting or ban it altogether. Banning bioprinting altogether is an easy solution, but it will stop technology and science from progressing. The more difficult question is how the law should regulate bioprinting. Current regulations on synthetic biology are not sufficiently comprehensive to regulate bioprinting because bioprinting moves synthetic biology’s production out of the laboratory to everyone’s home. After analyzing different ways to regulate bioprinting, this Article offers a novel framework to regulate bioprinting: except for research and life-threatening emergency, the legislature and the medical profession should jointly regulate access to bioprinting’s blueprints, sources, and bioprinters.

Keywords: 3D Printing, bioprinting, cloning, cloneprinting, regulation, public policy, ethics

Suggested Citation

Tran, Jasper, To Bioprint or Not to Bioprint (December 10, 2014). North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 17, p. 123, 2015, Available at SSRN: or

Jasper Tran (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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