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bioprinting

Contributor(s): Francesca Sales

Bioprinting is the three-dimensional printing of biological tissue and organs through the layering of living cells. While this area of manufacturing is still in the experimental stage and is currently used primarily in scientific study rather than applied science, the possibility of creating functional replacement tissues or organs could one day transform medical treatment.

Bioprinting begins with creating an architectural design based on the fundamental composition of the target tissue or organ. In a laboratory environment, a bioprinter then uses that design and deposits thin layers of cells using a bioprint head, which moves either left and right or up and down in the required configuration. Bioprinters use bio-ink, or bioprocess protocols, to build these organic materials. They also dispense a dissolvable hydrogel to support and protect cells as tissues are constructed vertically, to act as fillers to fill empty spaces within the tissues.

Other uses for bioprinting include transplants, surgical therapy, tissue engineering and reconstructive surgery.

This was last updated in November 2014

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