Bioprinting And The Future Of 3D Printing, Part 1

April 18, 2017

 

3D printing is a field which is booming at an ever-accelerating rate. With direct digital manufacturer’s newfound ability to legally print objects due to the expiration of relevant patents, we are on the brink of a manufacturing revolution. With an array of plastic and metal items being designed and printed, inventors who were unable to print their previous ideas now can bring their innovations to life. If you are among these 3D printing pioneers or would like to be, consider the unprecedented precision and resolution that Nano3Dprint has to offer. We have printers designed for rapid prototyping and printed electornics and the micro and nano levels. Check out our high resolution additive manufacturing printer, the Nano3DPrint D4200S! In today’s post, however, we will be focusing on the exciting developments of bioprinting and 3D manufacturing.

 

Bioprinting

3D bioprinting can be defined as the creation of cell patterns utilizing 3D printing techniques and technologies, with the express purpose of ensuring that cell function and viability are maintained within the printed object. This is typically accomplished via a layer-by-layer method, where bioinks contribute to forming a human-tissue-replacement structure. And while all bioprinters are at this point experimental in their development, it is still an industry that has the potential to completely overhaul medicine and biology in its scope and efficacy. Let us begin by analyzing what is actually occurring when we talk about actually 3D printing an organ. We will then look at some of the bioprinting methods, which range from microvalve printing to laser-assisted bioprinting. In the next post in this two part series, we will highlight some of the organ-specific applications that bioprinting is currently exploring.

 

 

Living Cells

You may be like many people upon first hearing of this technology, nascent as it may be. People commonly say, “Wait, how could humans print a living cell?” We are glad you asked. The fact is that 3D printers aren’t creating living cells out of nothing, or “ex nihilo”, if you will. Any tissue in your body is made of various cell types (think bladder cells or bone cells and the like) are extracted from a subject and are then put through a cultivation process. This process is administered until there is a sufficient volume of cells to make the “bio-ink” which is then loaded into the printer, ready to go. It should be noted that this process isn’t always possible given the many types of cells that exist in the human body. Adult stem cells can be used as an alternative in order to develop the desired cell type, which would then become bio-ink.

 

 

Life finds a way

Beyond the artificial development of living cells, there also exists a synthetic adhesive which is incorporated into the bio-ink. The solution itself is typically some sort of dissolvable gel or collagen scaffold that cells attach to and grow upon. It’s essentially a framework for cells to develop, akin to the hexagonal format employed by bees to make a hive. Remarkably, scientists have observed that some cells have the ability to take on the appropriate positioning to thrive sans the synthetic scaffolding. But how does this happen? We could probably allocate a blog or two about that topic alone, but for the purposes of this