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3D Bioprinting: Synthesizing Human Tissues and Organs

By Dick Weisinger

3D-printing applications are becoming common in manufacturing, art design, product development, and architecture.

Bioprinting is an area where 3D-printing techniques have been applied to the fabrication of bioparts and tissues using living cells. Bioprinting is increasingly being used in medicine and bioengineering.

The 3D Bioprinting market was $385 million in the US in 2018 and is growing at a rate of 25 percent annually, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.

Recent innovations are advancing how artificial tissues and human organs can be created using bioprinting.

Rohan Shirwaiker, NC State associate professor, said that “we’ve reached the point where we are able to create medical products, such as knee implants, by printing living cells. But one challenge has been organizing the cells that are being printed, so that the engineered tissue more closely mimics natural tissues.”

At NC State an ultrasonic technique was used to better control the alignment of cells during the printing process, allowing researchers to precisely control cell placement to achieve improved strength and flexibility characteristics.

Researchers at UC Berkeley found that using cryogenic techniques they were able to speed up the printing process by stacking 2D layers of cells and binding them together into a 3D structure. .

Zichen Ziao, UC Berkeley Researcher, described the technique, saying that “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 them 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.”

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