Fraunhofer CMI has developed a 3D Bioprinting System for the next Generation of "Bottom-Up" Tissue Engineering

News / 1.12.2015

The list of patients in dire need of organ transplants grows longer every day. Patients who are fortunate enough to find a 'match' still struggle with immunosuppressive therapy and ultimate organ failure. The goal of 3D bioprinting is to precisely place cells in environments that trigger their growth into fully functional tissues and organs. Fraunhofer CMI, and others involved in this effort, are working towards the ultimate goal of bioprinting the patient's own cells into a new and healthy replacement organ.

Fraunhofer CMI:
© Fraunhofer CMI

Fraunhofer CMI's multimaterial and multiscale Three-Dimensional Bioprinter

Hollow diamond test structure.
© Fraunhofer CMI

Hollow diamond test structure.

Fraunhofer CMI Bioprinter-Viable Endothelial Cells
© Fraunhofer CMI

Viable endothelial cells in a Fraunhofer CMI bioprinted ring 24h post-printing. Live cells are shown in green while dead cells are shown in red.

Fraunhofer CMI's latest achievement in this field, was the development of a three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting system capable of multimaterial and multiscale deposition to enable the next generation of "bottom-up" tissue engineering. This area of research resides at the interface of engineering and life sciences, requiring an interdisciplinary team of engineers and scientists. Their work entails the design and implementation of diverse elements: a novel hydrogel-based bioink, a 3D bioprinter, automation software, and mammalian cell culture.

Fraunhofer CMI's bioprinter has three components uniquely combined into a comprehensive tool: syringe pumps connected to a selector valve that allow precise application of up to five different materials with varying viscosities and chemistries, a high velocity/high-precision x–y–z stage to accommodate the most rapid speeds allowable by the printed materials, and temperature control of the bioink reservoirs, lines, and printing environment. Our custom-designed bioprinter is able to print multiple materials (or multiple cell types in the same material) concurrently with various feature sizes (100 μm–1 mm wide; 100 μm–1 cm high). One of these materials is a biocompatible, printable bioink that has been used to test for cell survival within the hydrogel following printing. Hand-printed (HP) controls show that our bioprinter does not adversely affect the viability of the printed cells.

The researchers are currently in the process of bioprinting blood vessel precursors using both smooth muscle cells and endothelial (blood vessel wall) cells. They also work in the area of osseointegration of hip implants and have successfully bioprinted scaffolds that trigger osteoblasts (bone cells) to deposit new calcium mineral.

Fraunhofer CMI can be contacted to pursue collaborative research projects involving tissue engineering or bioink development. Industrial organizations looking to incorporate bioprinting into their research portfolio can also reach us to pursue custom instrumentation for tissue engineering solutions.

Fraunhofer CMI reports the design and build of the 3D bioprinter, the optimization of the bioink, and the stability and viability of the printed constructs in their publication"Multimaterial and Multiscale Three-Dimensional Bioprinter" in the Journal of Nanotechnology in Engineering and Medicine.