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Technology today is speeding along at a speed at which is almost incomprehensible. Yesterday’s science fiction may very well become today’s science fact. Though are some facts stranger than fiction? It certainly must be true as we are now able to mass-produce human skin at a low cost for clinical testing and other uses.

The great minds behind this skin producing factory is Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology in Stuttgart, Germany. The factory was just in its infancy merely two years ago, and now it has come online, producing 5,000 penny-sized discs of milky translucent tissue every month.

Each disk of skin will cost about US$72, which is actually slightly more than it was expected to cost when the project was in its infancy 2 years ago.

The skin making process is controlled by robots and computers and executed in a sterile, climate controlled setting. The goal of the project is to eventually be able to factory produce human tissue, complete with blood vessels, that could be used to treat injuries or various medical conditions.

Director of the facility, Heike Walles, believes that factories such as this one is essential to efficiently produce new tissue, including those of organs. Her team has successfully produced lab engineered tissue for human transplantation, but the process is very expensive and also labour-intensive. She believes that an automated manufacturing facility is able to cut costs and simplify processes.

The skin being manufactured now is still a long way from being transplanted, but at the moment it is being used in animal testing and could potentially be used in cosmetic products.

Factory manufactured human skin! What would they think of next? I think skin is the best organ to start with. I wonder how far can this kind of technology go?