In the recent era, additive manufacturing or 3D bioprinting has revolutionized the medical sector. This technology can be used for prototyping as well as production of customized body parts and is paving way for major innovations in the medical industry. The technology was initially adopted for dental implants but with time it has gained momentum in the pharmaceutical research field as well. The customization and high precision of implants with cost effectiveness has led to the increase in the popularity of this technology.
Applications of bioprinting
The fabrication of artificial tissues and organs by bio printing has revolutionized the diagnosis and management options of many medical conditions. It has significant role in the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering of osteochondral defects. It has an additive character which allows biphasic fabrication of bone and cartilaginous tissue at the same time. Bio printing of bone directly in the patient’s body is envisioned in the years to come. 3D bioprinting uses stem cell based approach with the intention to create tissue for transplants or at least to conduct functional and toxicity studies. In addition to the printing of various living tissues, 3D printing can also be used in the manufacture of drugs with a personalized dosage. The first of its kind 3D printed drug, Spritam was approved by the FDA for treatment of epilepsy and was launched in the US in 2016.
Methods of bioprinting
Inkjet based technique – It makes use of droplet formation using a nozzle. This bioprinting technology is done using conventional inkjet printing process with desktop inkjet printers. It is a noncontact printing process with ability to deposit precise picoliter droplets of bioink onto a culture dish under computer control.
Laser-based bioprinting – It involves laser-guided and laser-induced bioprinting. The printing is done using a laser pulse created by a bubble at the interface and propels the bioink to form a droplet. This technology can print highly viscous materials using best of resolution as compared to all other methods. It is also highly precise and enables cells to be placed within 5 mm of the template.
Acoustic bioprinting Method – This method utilizes sound waves to form a focal point at the interface between the air and fluid, generating droplets without the use of a nozzle. This acoustic wave breaks the liquid present inside the print head into multiple droplets and the ejection of droplets at regular intervals.
Extrusion-based bioprinting – This method converts cells into hydrogels. Although there are different methods adopted in this method, the materials used as bioprinters need to possess specific characteristics like biocompatibility, appropriate degradation kinetics and structural biomechanical properties. It is essential that the material has resemblance to the desired natural tissue to be printed.
3D bioprinting is a fast growing technology and can be adopted in a wide array of applications such as tissue implants to personalized dosage forms. It has been investigated for use in printed meat based products similar to actual meat but with a softer texture to facilitate easy digestion with low cost indicating its major role in food industry as well.
– Pavan Mudholkar,
Sr Research Analyst,