The basic skin production system, which Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft hopes to start selling next year, can produce 5,000 little swatches of human skin a month, for a total of over 600 square inches of mass-produced tissue. Each 0.12-square-inch section of skin would cost around $49 to produce, far less than the current cost.
The system, which should be available in 2010, is fully automated, with computers controlling the solution that the skin grows in, monitoring the vats for infection, guiding the blade that cuts the swatches, and even testing the quality of the final product. So far, this project has generated 19 patents for Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.
Potential applications include not only helping burn victims, but replacing lab animals in product safety testing. Also, robots probably won't have to forage as much for the taste of human flesh.