Nov 8, 2016 2:19:08 AM

How to Print with a BioBots Printer

In this post, we’re going to take you through some of the basics behind using one of our 3D bioprinters. What does it look like? How does it work? Well, it all comes down to three pretty simple steps.

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Step 1. Model the object you want.

Similar to a normal printer, the BioBot needs a document to go off of while printing. With our software, users can print objects imported from digital 3D file formats such as STL. These need to be made beforehand on common programs like SolidWorks, and the BioBots will print them using the biomaterial of your choice. The printers have a 100-micron resolution, so they can handle very small details! In general, the more viscous the material, the greater the resolution. There’s a great degree of control and ease-of-use.

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Step 2. Pick a material.

The BioBots printers can use a wide variety of “inks” to make useful 3D structures. The key is that they can print with biocompatible materials, such as polyethylene glycol, collagen, fibrin, gelatin, and Pluronic F-127. These materials can be used to print things like lattices for cell culture, cylinders that model blood vasculature, and even cartilage knee caps.

The inks can be customized too. For example, gelatin can be modified to become photocurable, so that it hardens when exposed to blue light—as pictured above. Pluronic F-127 has a cool property too: it’s normally very rigid, but dissolves easily in cold water. This is especially useful if you want to wash out the F-127 scaffold after forming a 3D structure with it, leaving only cells, for example.

Step 3. Print!

Time for the best part: actually printing the 3D model! First, the printing platform needs to be calibrated so that its surface lies flat and perpendicular to the nozzle. The BioBot then uses compressed air to force biomaterial out layer by layer, with a high degree of precision. Depending on the material, the printer may shine a blue light too to cure it on contact. And that’s it! Pretty soon, the structure will be rendered in 3D, ready to use for biological experiments, mechanical testing, or even clinical applications. Happy bioprinting!

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by Ishmam Ahmed