Bioprinting is an additive manufacturing process that involves biomaterials, such as growth factors and cells, which are combined to generate tissue-like structures that imitate natural tissues. This is a fundamental process, yet you may be wondering how it is possible and what steps are entailed to get to the tissue-like structure at the end of it all. Specialist companies like Manchester Biogel can help if you have very technical questions or want to know if this is the type of service that would be useful for you. Here, we give you a brief overview of what you may need to know about 3D bioprinting and how it works.
Why does 3D bioprinting matter?
Before we take you through the steps involved when it comes to 3D bioprinting, it is imperative to explain why this is so important. This process is essential because of the tissue-like structures created, which mimic the genuine macro- and micro-environment of human organs and tissues. This is critical for clinical trials and drug testing, with the possibility, for instance, to considerably lower the need for animal trials.
When living organs and tissues do not need to come from humans, this innovative technology provides many opportunities. A good example is when it comes to carrying out testing of drugs on models created using disease tissues which have limitations, this technology can help overcome these by providing representative healthy models. . This process could also be beneficial in getting rid of the problems linked with organ transplantation and donation.
How does 3D bioprinting work?
Several different bioprinting methods are available. They are based on either laser, acoustic, inkjet, extrusion technologies. Despite the available different types, a standard bioprinting process will typically follow the steps below:
- 3D imaging – A routine MRI or CT scan will be used to ensure that the tissue’s dimensions are precise. 3D imaging needs to provide a perfect fit of the tissue. The surgeon should not need to make any adjustments, so this is a critical first step in the process.
- 3D modelling – Next, a blueprint will be created, and this is done using an AutoCAD tool. The blueprint will also incorporate high-detail layer-by-layer instruction. You can make fine adjustments at this point to prevent defects from being transferred.
- Bioink preparation – Bioink combines a compatible base with living cells. A compatible base could be nanocellulose, alginate, silk, hyaluronan, gelatin, and collagen. The base makes sure that cells have the scaffolding they need to grow on and the nutrient required to survive. The complete substance is function-specific and based on the patient.
- Printing – Now, we move on to the 3D printing process, which involves bioink being deposited layer-by-layer, with every layer having a thickness of 0.5 mm at the maximum. The delivery of larger or smaller deposits is highly dependent on the type of tissue being printed and the number of nozzles. The mixture will leave the nozzle as a highly viscous fluid.
- Solidification – Once deposition occurs, the layer will begin as a viscous liquid, and then it will start solidifying to hold its shape. As more layers are continually being deposited, this occurs. The process of solidification and blending is known by the term crosslinking. It can be aided by specific chemicals, UV light, or heat, which can be delivered via a UV light source.
Final words on 3D bioprinting
Hopefully, we have provided you with the information you need about 3D bioprinting. We hope that this has given you a better understanding of this additive manufacturing process.