A 3D printer can either print layer by layer or carve an object layer by layer to obtain an object. I heard somewhere that 3D printing technology isn't that accurate for printing minute details like fingerprints and iris patterns. Printing an iris pattern using a 3D printer would be a nice test to find this out. Can it print the iris pattern accurately? If not, then to what extent would be the accuracy of the 3D printed model of iris? Many commercial iris scanners can be easily fooled by high quality images of iris. Can a 3D printer print the these minute iris patterns with as much detail?

  • $\begingroup$ I am voting to close this question as unclear what you're asking, because you haven't specified what kind of 3D printer you are interested in. $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2016 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ Can a 3D printer carve a detailed iris pattern? Or can any 3D printer print an iris pattern layer by layer in intensive detail so that an iris recognition system can no longer differentiate between the original iris of the user and the 3D printed iris, and the thief is able to bypass the iris scanning system. $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2016 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Please do a bit of research on your own. What kind of 3D printer so you want the answer for? For some types (like FDM) the answer is definitely not, but for others it might be possible. $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2016 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


I take lectures in university and was asked to read a review paper on 3D printed organs by Anthony Atala (the most famous paper in printed organs research). The paper discussed about using several techniques to print the tissue we need at functional resolution. The review also cites detailed procedures to 3D print lung and skin tissues.

Coming back to your question, we have reached a point in time where we can scan a real Iris and print them! Yes. And people use this technique called self assembly to achieve this (Other design approaches like Biomimicry and MiniTissue assembly is also being used right now). To do this we first extract cells from the donor. Or We do a functional high res scan of the extracted cell/part that we want to replicate. This is done via FMT-CT-Fluorescence Imaging, etc. And we cultivate the cells in bio incubators (we can also print cells btw - If the exact environment and operational conditions are maintained, we can print cell-replicas that will later self assemble to form the Iris with the same resolution and functional properties as that of the real one). The cultivated/printed cell is used as the tissue forming material. Forming is done by the cells themselves and is thus christened Self assembly.

Although this may sound futuristic, Autonomous Self Assembly is something that's already being done in Labs! The method works by studying embryonic organ development. For instance, Early stage cellular components of a developing tissue makes their own ECM. Like mentioned before, if we use proper signalling, and environmental manipulation, we can create autonomous organization and patterning to make something we want. Advantage of this method is that we can work without scaffolds. This method relies on cell as primary driver of histogenesis. Knowledge of how an embryo grows into tissue (embroyo tissue genesis and organogenesis) is applied to achieve "real" cell dimensions/properties.

I would recommend you to read the paper for detailed information. The method I mentioned in this post is only one among three other methods that are being used currently in this domain.

So yeah. My answer is yes. You can print an Iris and fool the system.

-- Updates

  • S. V. Murphy and A. Atala, “3D bioprinting of tissues and organs,” Nature Biotechnology, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 773–785, Aug. 2014. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2958
  • Withdrew my claim "any given resolution"
  • Details of the process
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would be helpful if you stated the title of the paper and possibly provided a link. I also find the claims you make somewhat doubtful; surely it's not possible to print at "any given resolution" (there must be some lower bound to how fine you can print). I don't think the state of the art is anywhere near good enough to do this and that the paper probably describes an outlook on what might be possible in the future, but doesn't describe what is possible right now. $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2016 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ Updated the answer. And the paper is a review of what is being done right now. My answer is not in any way science fiction. $\endgroup$
    – thatgeeman
    Jul 28, 2016 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the information, however I agree with TomVanDerZanden that the more links and citations for this topic would make it more believable. At first glance, it looks like "an Abraham Lincoln quote". So, an actual link I think will go a long way. $\endgroup$
    – tbm0115
    Jul 28, 2016 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. The review paper itself consists of 159 citations. I have added the DOI for your reference. $\endgroup$
    – thatgeeman
    Jul 28, 2016 at 15:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .