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3D Printing with Biological Matter

According to The Daily Californian, “only 10 percent of the world’s needed organ transplantation is currently being met.”  Thankfully, researchers at UC Berkeley have just developed a 3D printing process, which could help fill this enormous need.

The researchers “have invented a 3D printing process, which can print biological matter and has the potential to make bioprinting tissue engineering more efficient.”  They published their findings in the scientific journal American Society of Mechanical Engineers Digital Collection.

The scientists utilized “multilayer cryolithography, which allowed them to simultaneously print parallel 2D layers and freeze those layers together to form a 3D structure.”  As Campus Researcher Zichen Xiao, “who worked on this project for his Master’s Degree Capstone Thesis,” explains: “it’s like making a hamburger in a very cool – cryogenic – solution.  You already print multiple layers, and you basically pick up one layer and stack the on top of each other.  You put the bottom bread there first and put whatever layer you want on top of it.  By the process of freezing, it keeps its rigid structure, and the cells are still alive.”

Xiao elaborates: “this process overcomes two major obstacles present in the field of bioprinting.  The first is that material made for bioprinting is usually soft, and thus cannot sustain its own weight.  The second significant challenge is met due to 3D printing taking a long time to execute – by the time a section is printed, the older cells on the bottom may have died.”

“The final iteration of the experiment was carried out using two 3D printers, one robotic arm, and other fixtures to ensure the layers were printed onto the structure quickly and the layers were frozen to bond them together.”

In the future, Xiao says, “this process can be used for tissue engineering or bioprinting…another application could be in the food industry…creating food people with digestion and chewing issues can eat.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of The Daily Californian

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