A new technique developed by researchers at the University of Buffalo, USA, promises to dramatically accelerate the process of producing living tissue, and even complete organsUsing print 3D.
In a demonstration, a machine dips a base in a container with a yellowish gel and, in just 19 minutes, produces a hand in real size. Using conventional techniques, the same process would take about six hours.
“The technology we have developed is 10-50 times faster than the industry standard and works with large sample sizes that were very difficult to achieve before,” says study co-author Ruogang Zhao, PhD, associate professor of Biomedical engineering. According to the researcher, the new technique could eventually save countless lives that are currently lost due to the scarcity of organs and donors.
Objects are printed using the stereolithography technique (the same used in 3D printers resin-based) in materials known as hydrogels, which are already used in the production of contact lenses or as “supports” in tissue engineering.
In addition to being faster, the technique reduces the damage to biological tissues resulting from the printing process. “Our method allows for the rapid printing of hydrogel models on the scale of centimeters. It significantly reduces the deformation of parts and cell injuries caused by prolonged exposure to environmental stresses that you commonly see in conventional 3D printing methods, ”says the study’s other co-author, Chi Zhou, PhD, associate professor of industrial and systems.
The researchers, who registered a provisional patent for the technology and formed a startup called Float3D to market it, say the method is particularly suitable for printing models with embedded blood vessel networks, a nascent technology that is expected to be a central part of production of 3D printed tissues and human organs.