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3D Printed tissues using MakerBot

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The human body can repair minor tissue damage by itself.  However, the human body has limits and cannot fix several damages. For example, the human body cannot fix several hearts, kidneys, liver problems, etc. These problems are fixed by performing organ transplants.

Professor Adam W. Feinberg´s group at Carnegie Mellon is performing research that one day could make it unnecessary to transplant organs. Instead, the required organs will be 3D printed. Professor Feinberg’s group uses MakerBot’s 3D printers for 3D printing tissues. The technology can best be described in the words of Professor Feinberg, “The challenge with soft materials — think about something like Jello that we eat — is that they collapse under their weight when 3-D printed in air. So we developed a method of printing these soft materials inside a support bath material. Essentially, we print one gel inside of another gel, which allows us to accurately position the soft material as it’s being printed, layer-by-layer.”

A critical aspect of this research is that it is based on using off-the-shelf 3D printers and not conventional bioprinters. These off-the-shelf 3D printers cost in the range of a thousand dollars which is much more affordable compared to typical bioprinters that cost in the range of a hundred thousand dollars.  Also, the research group is using open-source software and releasing their 3D printer designs under an open-source license.







3D Printed wearable skin.

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According to Neri Oxman, “This is the first time that 3D printing technology has been used to produce a photosynthetic wearable piece with hollow internal channels designed to house microorganisms. Inspired by the human gastrointestinal tract, Mushtari hosts synthetic microorganisms, a co-culture of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and E. coli bacteria that can fluoresce bright colors in darkness and produce sugar or biofuels when exposed to the sun. Such functions will in the near future augment the wearer by scanning our skins, repairing damaged tissue and sustaining our bodies, an experiment that has never been attempted before.”