When it comes to 3D printing in biomedical applications, you ain't seen nothing yet. 

That's the message from Michael Drues, Ph.D., President, Vascular Sciences, a Grafton, Mass. company that consults with medical device companies and provides biosimulation tools. Speaking at the upcoming MD&M West 2014 show on Tuesday at a track called Accelerating Speed to Market Through Effective Prototyping and 3D Printing, Drues will discuss medical applications for 3D printing that have yet to make headlines. Among them: Printing of medical devices that could be implantable, custom-printing implatable devices based on patient anatomy, and printing of actual drugs. "People are working on these ideas now," he says.

Other topics Drues says are worth discussing include the 3D printing of living tissue. The topic has the potential to eliminate the use of animals in drug tests, he claims. "Suppose we could print out tiny livers," he says. "We could turn the way we do clinical trials upside down. When you print out livers, you can do In vivo or quasi-In vivo tests. It will be an intersection between biotech and the traditional biomedical industry."

But regulatory challenges will come on the heels of such developments, Drues says. "That's not nearly as far off as many people think."