During the “The Way to the Stars” event held at the Palace of Pioneers in Moscow, Skolkovo based 3D bioprinting startup 3D Bioprinting Solutions (3DBio) presented a prototype for a “space bioprinter” based on magnetic levitation technology, which will enable applications for 3D bioprinting in space.
The Biotechnology Research lab showed the first prototype concept for the magnetic space bioprinting system announced in 2016, which is now ready to fly to the ISS station in 2018. The projects was carried out under an agreement with ACCD “Energy”. The experiment is scheduled to remain on board the ISS and continue to perform test operations through 2024.
“Such printers do not exist in the world. It must comply with many characteristics such as compactness, lightweight, ease of use, as well as meet the requirements necessary to ensure the safety of the crew, but most importantly to print organ constructs in microgravity – it needs to be functional. We already have gained extensive experience form creating our own 3D-bioprinter FABION to work on Earth. We are the world’s first company to print the organ construct of the thyroid gland of the mouse. Creating a bioprinter for space-based applications is a more difficult task, but mutual support and cooperation on the part of partners and Roscosmos we will enable us to execute it.” Youssef Khesuani, Managing Partner and cofounder of 3D Bioprinting Solutions.
While the 3D bioprinter itself is still an early prototype (no images are yet available of the system itself), Yusef Khesuani exclusively confirmed to 3D Printing Media Network that it will be ready for lift off in 2018 and provided some exclusive footage of the magnetic biofabrication process in which the scientists at 3D Bio used chondrospheres (which are spheroids of chondrocytes, the cells that make up cartilage).
In order to ensure that children present at the event could understand the mechanism of operation of the printer, researchers from 3D Bioprinting Solutions demonstrated the levitation process and gave everybody the opportunity to carry out an experiment on their own. A special device is used to control microscopic objects and position them in space by means of acoustic waves. That movement of the particles without a physical impact is the basic principle of operation for the bioprinting process.