We’ve been at the forefront, reporting on bioprinting even more intently of late, watching this area of 3D printing pick up real steam–and great interest–as concepts are turning to reality, and solidly so. With the advent of streamlined hardware, software, and materials arising in the field, scientists are able to make real, physical progress rather than just writing and giving speeches about what we may be able to do in the future.
Making strides in bioprinting begins with significant scientific brainpower, but for 3D printing of cellular structures to include tissue and even organs requires more than your average machinery. Bioprinting is indeed revolutionary–and it absolutely requires the tools to match. This is where the 3D printer as you know it takes a swift turn into another world–and one that’s just being created by a global community of dedicated scientists and companies like BioBots, who are giving them the tools to continue their work without the hassle of being stilted by a lack of technology.
We’ve followed BioBots for quite some time now, and last we checked in with them, their 3D printer was undergoing intense beta testing in science labs around the world. After nine months in a comprehensive beta phase, the BioBot 1 will emerge at the 2015 TERMIS World Congress, convening in Boston September 8-11. BioBots will show off their 3D printer with some major cred behind it already as those researchers who were beta testing have been busy–and successful. Installed at learning institutions like Stanford, Penn, MIT, and Drexel, the BioBot 1 has already been in use by researchers taking living cells and fabricating bone, liver, and brain tissue.
The BioBot 1 isn’t just a 3D printer, it’s a system, and one that according to those actually involved in bioprinting, would seem to be delivering exactly what’s needed. Simplifying and organizing the process, BioBots developed full cartridge kits made up of pre-prepared bio-ink, ready for direct integration of living cells. Users also still have the option of creating and using their own bio-inks, as the company has tested many different chemical makeups with the BioBot 1.
“Our incredible team at BioBots is driven by the mission of engineering biology. To build the BioBot 1, we partnered with some of the most brilliant minds in tissue engineering, and together we’ve developed the world’s most accessible biofabrication technology,” said BioBots’ co-founder and CEO, Daniel Cabrera. “This is one of many steps that we’re taking towards democratizing the ability to build with life, and the ramifications are game changing.”
“With the BioBot 1 comes the ability to build 3D living tissues that can be used to reduce the time and cost of developing new drugs, 3D living tissues that can be used to personalize therapies, 3D living tissues that can be implanted into patients and 3D living tissues that can be studied to explore the largest mystery of our generation–life. We can’t wait to see what else people will build now that a BioBot can sit on every lab bench around the world.”
Along with the cartridge system, what allows the BioBot 1 such inimitable function in today’s market and in the bioprinting arena is that it employs a safe visible light to cure the biomaterials, which obviously have a more fragile nature and have to be handled differently to protect cells.
The BioBot 1 allows researchers to create 3D printed tissue reliably with the curing mechanism, as well as a heated dual extruder that is able to keep cells at what would normally be natural body temperature. Thermoplastic supports can be cured also during the process allowing for greater latitude in creation as well as flexibility in material being used. Users are able to put several materials into the same sample which allows for speed, diversity, and complexity.
“We have spent the last year listening to our community and painstakingly deciding what features were most important to making the next generation of living tissues in the lab,” said BioBots’ Co-Founder and CTO, Ricky Solorzano. “The result is the best 3D bioprinter in the world – the BioBot 1. We have hit a perfect balance between versatility and accessibility. While being a very open system to allow users to input a wide range of materials, it still remains extremely easy to use. We are further releasing the most widely used bioink in the field today, BioGel, a gelatin methacrylate based solution, to easily allow labs to begin bioprinting with a matrix that is well characterized and tested. We are extremely excited to see what you will build.”
Founded in 2014, BioBots is the creation of University of Pennsylvania graduates Cabrera and Solorzano. They have received support and funding by DreamIt Health, 500 StartUps, and Ben Franklin Tech Partners. The team is obviously dynamic and extremely hands-on, as they have been from the beginning, with Cabrera actually having built the first BioBots prototype from his college dorm room.
Becoming available on September 8th, and bearing a price tag of $10K, the BioBot 1 obviously represents an initial investment, but is meant to cut the cumulative costs of 3D bioprinting, as well as offering an entirely new level of accessibility that should lead to many innovations. The goal now is to put this hardware into the hands of bioprinting labs, educators, and researchers around the world, offering them a way to 3D print in a completely streamlined and more affordable manner.