The combination of Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printers. The German engineering firm KUKA Robotics is prototyping a robotic arm that works with a MakerBot 3D printer to speed up the manufacture of robotic arms. Parts can be printed, retrieved and installed by a robot.
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BioBot: a Desktop 3D Printer for Living Tissue
According to the Biobots,” a Philadelphia based startup has developed a desktop 3D printer for printing biomaterials. The 3D printer called BioBot 1 was demoed at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in May 2015. Biobots was found the most innovative startup out of 48 startups at the SXSW Accelerator in Austin.
Biobot 1 uses a compressed air pneumatic system that allows it to precisely control the printing operation. Biobots has developed biomaterial that is placed in the syringe along with cells for printing. The biomaterial hardens as it is extruded. Biobot 1 uses visible blue light to cure the biomaterial. Unlike UV light, visible blue light is not harmful to living tissue. The technology can be used to 3D print living tissue such as cartilage, bone, or liver. The technology can find valuable applications in the clinical development of the drug.
Biobots aims at bringing down the cost of bioprinting significantly. Typical bioprinters cost in the range of hundred thousand dollars. Biobots managed to bring down the cost by an order of magnitude. Biobot 1 is also designed for ease of use. According to Danny Cabrera, co-founder of Biobots, “As soon as you get a BioBot, you can print something. What we’re doing is we’re saying anybody can do this. [It’s] this MakerBot of biology idea.”
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Carnegie Mellon University Researchers 3D Print Tissues Using MakerBot 3D Printers
Human body can repair small tissue damages by itself. However, human body has its limits and cannot fix several types of damages. For example, human body is unable to fix several heart, problems, kidney problems, liver problems, and so on. These problems are fixed by performing organ transplants. Thousands of Americans are on waiting lists for various organ transplants.
Professor Adam 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 is using 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 own 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.”
One important aspect of this research is that it is based on use of 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 typical bioprinters that cost in the range of hundred thousand dollars. Also the research group is using open source software and releasing their 3D printer designs under an open source license.