By Scott J. Grunewald | 3D Printing Industry
Bio3D Technologies is a new start-up from Singapore that announced they are releasing their country’s first 3D bioprinter, called the Bio3D Life-Printer. It may be capable of 3D printing living human tissue and cells for drug testing and experimentation, without putting living patients at risk.
3D bioprinting is similar to other methods of 3D printing, but bioprintersfabricate structures using living cells and tissues, rather than spools of filament or vats of resin. It’s not a new process, but it has had limitations that stymied efforts to make it more accessible. Cost is always a factor in medical grade research equipment, especially when unproven or emergent technology is involved. But, beyond the cost, there are the biomaterials themselves impose restrictions. Many 3D bioprinters can only print in one material at a time, but organs are made up of multiple types of tissues. Bio3D’s new bio printer seems to have overcome both obstacles of cost and multiple materials.
The Life-Printer is one of few bioprinters that features multiple print heads, allowing several biomaterials to be printed at the same time. Naturally, this greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to fabricateliving tissue. The printheads are also modular, so multiple types of printheads can be easily fit onto it. For more complex prints, the machine also allows for a combination of organic and inorganic materials to be deposited in a single print session.
The Bio3D Life-Printer can print with a precision as fine as 10 microns. The machine also has an auto-aligning print platform and anti-vibration pads that ensure accurate layering. Additionally, the printing platform can be configured to hold any style, size or shape of labware. With a custom software interface, Bio3D promises that coding and editing prints will be simple and highly adaptable, depending on what’s being printed. The printer can also respond to voice commands and can be operated with an included Windows 8 tablet.
This is legitimately one of the most exciting advancements in 3D bioprinting that I’ve seen, as it may bring us one gigantic step further towards 3D printing viable, transplantable tissue. Granted, fabricating organs isn’t going to happen with this specificbioprinter – we have a few technology cycles until that occurs. While experimenting with bioprintingis sometimes reserved for a select group of researcherswho work for companies or schools that can afford the equipment, the Bio3D Life-Printer will start at a ridiculously affordable $2,400 for a single extruder model and, depending on the type and quantity of additional heads,maxes out at $8,000. That is going to put a lot of these bioprinters into the hands of researchers who could not afford access to them previously.
You can learn more about the Life-Printer on the Bio3D Technologies website.
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