3D Printer that Uses Intersecting Inkjets to Fabricate Biological Structures

Technology #15947

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Yong Huang
Kyle Will Christensen
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Richard Croley
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
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US Patent Pending

Simultaneously Prints then Mixes Reactive Materials for Precise 3D Bioprints

This 3D printer uses intersecting inkjets that print then mix reactive materials to create functional biological structures successfully. Bioprinting, or using 3D printing to assemble biological structures, benefits healthcare fields, such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Unfortunately, ingredient materials for making bio-inks sometimes react to each other, resulting in inks that are difficult to print or even unprintable because they’ve undergone gelation or increased in viscosity, for example.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a 3D printer that forms biological structures from reactive materials by using intersecting jets to simultaneously deposit the materials as they mix. Printed droplets mix and coalesce with one another, creating 3D structures with a droplet size-based voxel resolution. This procedure enables the precise fabrication of biological structures from materials previously incompatible with conventional 3D printing.

Application

3D printer with intersecting jets to print biological structures from reactive materials and structures having a compositional gradient

Advantages

  • Utilizes two or more inkjets to eject independent droplets of each reactive component, allowing the device to create biological structures from materials incompatible with single inkjet devices
  • Mixes the ink components, in-situ, after printing, preventing an early reaction that could cause a printability issue
  • Produces scalable droplets of reactive materials by using intersecting inkjet streams, extending use to medical applications requiring biological structures of different materials

Technology

This 3D printer creates biological structures out of reactive materials by simultaneously depositing the droplets of each reactive component onto a substrate using independent inkjets. Once the droplets contact the substrate, they collide, mix, coalesce, and solidify at a single location. The numerous layers of droplets collectively form the biological structure. This procedure improves efficiency and control for reactive material printing. It has printed neural stem cell (NSC) spheres, acellular and cellular alginate structures, and gradient hydroxyapatite (HAP) structures, and it can address various advanced biological fabrication applications, such as the production of structures having a compositional gradient.