3D bioprinting is the cutting edge of 3D printing as it joins engineered materials and living tissues into complex shapes. Many universities are private research firms are currently exploring paths to 3D printing bones, muscles, and organs. Some of those organizations build their own bioprinters either from scratch or by modifying an FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printer, but the researchers doing 3D bioprinting are usually some form of biologists, meaning they have to work with an engineering department/firm to construct their 3D printers. That can often delay projects and result in bioprinters that are just good enough to prove a concept but struggle with more demanding tasks. Turkish company AxolotlBiosystems provides a solution to those researchers by offering a highly-sensitive 3D bioprinter specifically designed for research.
Their 3D bioprinters have been adopted by several universities so far, including Stanford University, Penn State University, Hacettepe, Marmara, Acıbadem, and İstinye universities. Founding partner Onur Samet Yıldırım relates a major obstacle of 3D bioprinting: “The main problem with the technology is the tissue death during the printing process.”
AxolotlBiosystems engineers addressed that problem by reducing heat and pressure. “The distinctive thing about AxolotlBio is sensitivity,” Yıldırım said. “Normally, the biological material in the syringes are injected manually. However, the syringe system that we have developed is designed particularly for the 3D printers.” The pneumatic system in their bioprinter has a pressure range of 0 to 145 psi and a pressure resolution of 0.1 psi, allowing it to print with low viscous materials. The printheads can be heated to 250°C and the printbed can reach 60°C, further expanding its material catalog. And wavelength and power values of a UV-LED curing system can be tuned to the specific materials in use, from 365nm to 405nm and 3W to 10W respectively. With a build volume of 100 x 100 x 50mm, it has an amazing XY resolution of 10 microns and a Z resolution of 1.25 microns.
Those features add up to form a 3D bioprinter capable of accurately handling a wide range of biomaterials and living tissue cells. To really enable researchers, they designed the AxoDual with two printheads. “Dual bioprinting enables the building of complex tissues that require simultaneous 3D printing of materials and live tissue,” the company says. “AxoDual is a 3D bioprinter equipped with dual printheads that enable researchers to bioprint two different materials in one model. This enables bioprinting of complex tissues with ease.”
Their bioprinters also work with standard Petri dishes and cell culture plates. For researchers trying to 3D print ears and the like, an AxoDual would be the ideal tool.