What happened

Shares of industrial 3D printer maker Stratasys (SSYS -0.71%) were trading 14% higher as of 11:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday -- but to find the reason for that jump, you'll need to look elsewhere.

In fact, you'll need to look to Stratasys's archrival, 3D Systems (DDD -1.43%), and its new partner, Israeli regenerative medicine company CollPlant Biotechnologies (CLGN 2.66%), which just announced news that has the whole 3D printing industry on fire.

3-D printer printing a human head

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

CollPlant stock was up 10.1%, and 3D Systems was doing even better -- up 27.7%! The reason for all of this excitement is because Tuesday morning, 3D and CollPlant announced that they are teaming up "to deliver bioprinted solutions for improved breast reconstruction treatments."  

Specifically, the partners will be working on 3D printing a "soft tissue matrix" upon which the body can grow new skin, and which will function to "support the lower portion of the breast" in patients receiving reconstructive surgery after undergoing mastectomies. The matrices in question will be printed using plant-based recombinant human collagen (rhCollagen) as their "bioink," rather than the metal or plastic or similar raw materials utilized as the "ink" in other 3D printing products.

According to the companies, rhCollagen "does not elicit an adverse immune response in humans" and also offers "superior performance, consistency and safety," making it ideal for use in this kind of reconstructive surgery.

Now what

While the companies didn't emphasize the point, it seems likely that this same rhCollagen could have uses in other reconstructive and plastic surgeries as well. If this is the case -- and what we're looking at here is a potential breakthrough and a whole new industry of building human body parts via 3D printers -- it would explain why the enthusiasm that began with 3D Systems is already expanding beyond it.

Indeed, earlier this year, 3D Systems announced a similar collaboration with United Therapeutics (UTHR 2.43%) to explore the 3D printing of human organs for transplant utilizing similar "scaffold" or "matrix" technology. At the time, 3D Systems expressed its intention to "invest, further develop, and commercialize solutions for the diverse application opportunities in regenerative medicine."

Now, 3D Systems is doing just that -- and where it leads, its peers may soon follow.