Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is an additive manufacturing technique for creating biological structures, such as live tissue or organs, bio-inks, growth factors, and other biocompatible materials. At the Univ. of California, San Diego (UCSD), nanoengineers have developed a 3D bioprinting method to produce large batches of tissue at record speeds. They hope to use this research to improve drug development.
Bioprinting is generally divided into two types — extrusion-based and light-based. Generally, extrusion-based techniques involve pumping a bio-ink through a nozzle-like structure, which physically moves through space to deposit material. On the other hand, light-based techniques use light to photopolymerize chosen regions within a standing pool of liquid bio-ink. The two methods can even be combined — for example, viscous bio-ink may be extruded from a nozzle and then photopolymerized in place.
“With medical imaging technology and computer-aided design, we can digitally model the structure of biological tissues,” says Shaochen Chen, an engineer at UCSD. “Combined with 3D bioprinting, we can then take living cells and print them into these shapes, allowing for biomimetic reproductions of the intended tissues.
“Depending on the type of 3D bioprinting technique, cell...
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