Science Daily has reported on the findings of a group of scientists from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. These scientists have developed a process they call ‘in-air microfluidics,’ which allows them to print 3D structures with living cells.
“This special technique enables the fast and ‘in-flight’ production of micro building blocks that are viable and can be used for repairing damaged tissue, for example…microfluidics [involves] the manipulation of tiny fluid drops with sizes between a micrometer and a millimeter.” Often, this manipulation is not fast enough for industrial and clinical applications.
This is where the team from the University of Twente comes in. Their hypothesis involved the acceleration of these fluids via the use of two ‘jets’ of fluids. They were correct. But “speed is not the only advantage. By choosing jets containing different types of fluids that react, the collision results in new materials. Smart combinations of fluids will result in solid and printable building blocks in one single step.”
“ In this way, it is possible to capture a living cell inside printable material. The resulting bio building blocks are printed in a 3D structure that looks like a sponge, filled with cells and fluid. These 3D modular biomaterials have an internal structure that is quite similar to that of natural tissue. Many 3D printing techniques are based on using heat or UV light: both would damage living cells. The new microfluidic approach is therefore a promising technique in tissue engineering, in which damaged tissue is repaired by using cultured cell material of the patient.”
The team at the University of Twente are now investigating a new lamFluidics spinoff, “in which in-air microfluidics is used to create functional particles and materials.”
Image and Quotes Courtesy of Science Daily and the University of Twente in the Netherlands