Bioprinting

Because of the unique nature of the materials involved (cells and other hydrogel bioinks), bioprinting can be considered a stand-alone area of additive manufacturing. As such, it also sometimes overlaps with more traditional 3D printing technologies and materials, such as ceramics and resorbable polymers, for implants and scaffolds.

The long-term potential of bioprinting is as large if not larger than the entire potential of industrial additive manufacturing, with significant implications on human life-expectancy and quality of life. This however is something that will likely take place several decades from today.

The current reality is that no commercial bioprinted products – such as organ/tissue transplants and grafts – are yet available on the market for consumer regenerative medicine. Nevertheless, these technologies and processes are already having a massive impact on regenerative medicine and pharmaceutical research.

Mapping and categorizing bioprinting technologies is challenging since most systems integrate hybrid versions of extrusion, material jetting and even photopolymerization as well as other approaches that are not used in industrial manufacturing such as acoustic and magnetic assembly.

One general element to consider is that bioprinting is primarily divided into indirect technologies, used to build polymeric scaffolds upon which to add the cellular materials, and technologies that assemble the cellular materials directly. Scaffolds can be compared to tools in industrial manufacturing: as such these technologies are likely to be the first to enable the production of complex, vascularized organs and tissues. On the other hand, direct bioprinting technologies represent the ultimate goal of bioassembly and bioengineering, with volumetric approaches (where a part is built by consolidating all sides at the same time, not just one 2D layer at a time) seen as the key to the production of entire organs.

One related area that is emerging very rapidly is cellular agriculture, which is the ability to produce meat and dairy products directly from lab-grown cells. Using bioprinters to assemble these cells can become an effective way to give cellular agriculture products the look and shape of animal-derived equivalents.

Commercial implementation of bioprinting technologies is already underway in the fields of drug development testing (DDT) and cosmetics development and testing. Adoption has also been booming within the regenerative and bioengineering areas of research at major academic institutions operating in these fields around the world, which has driven the development and sale of an increasing number of bioprinting systems, based on several different additive processes.

Although complex organ production for human transplant remains a very long term objective, simpler bioprinted organs and tissue grafting for human use now seem increasingly within reach, especially for cartilage, bone, and skin. The latest breakthrough in lung regeneration technology, which saw the involvement of traditional 3D printing firm 3D Systems, provides an indication for future production of commercially available complex bioprinted organs for human transplant.

The map above categorizes the companies that have developed and commercialized bioprinting hardware or bioprinted products based on internally developed bioprinting technologies. If you’d like to see a company added to this map, write us at info@3dpbm.com.

Both bioprinting technologies and materials (bioinks) are evolving rapidly and in many different directions, making the segment difficult to accurately map and track. 3dpbm’s 3D Printing Business Directory lists just over 100 active companies and three primary categories: 19% are bioink (and generally bioprinting materials) manufacturers, 39% are bioprinting hardware manufacturers and 42% are bioprinting service providers. As is the case in many other fringe areas of AM, such as construction and advanced materials, several technology developers use their proprietary hardware to provide services and parts. This category of companies also includes university laboratories and internal laboratories within pharmaceutical firms that leverage bioprinting to provide services.

In this month’s AM Focus Bioprinting, we will present some of the latest innovations in this segment. We will also take a much closer look at some of the companies that are driving innovation in bioprinting by contributing to widening access to these technologies and their applications.

  • National Eye Institute (NEI) researchers 3D bioprint eye tissue - advancing our understanding of the mechanisms of blinding diseases.

    NEI researchers 3D bioprint eye tissue

    Scientists from the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, have used patient stem cells and 3D bioprinting to produce eye tissue that will advance the understanding of the mechanisms of blinding diseases. The research team printed a combination of cells that form the outer blood-retina…

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  • Essent Biologics launches micronized bone matrix for 3D bioprinting

    Essent Biologics, a leading supplier of human-derived cell and scaffold materials, launched its new Micronized Bone Matrix (MBM) for 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering applications. Essent Biologics will provide a mineralized allograft bone matrix derived from human ground cortical bone that contains native proteins, such as Collagen Type I, and…

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  • The Promised Land of 3D printing

    The Promised Land is generally intended as the land of Israel, which, according to the Bible’s Old Testament, God promised and subsequently gave to Abraham and several more times to his descendants. Metaphorically speaking, the idea of a Promised Land is also well suited for describing 3D printing’s potential, as…

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  • Steakholder Foods develops temperature-controlled print bed

    Steakholder Foods Ltd. (Nasdaq: STKH), (formerly MeaTech 3D: MITC), an international deep-tech food company at the forefront of the cultivated meat industry, developed a temperature-controlled print bed for its industrial-scale printer. This is another significant step forward on the company’s path toward mass production of cultivated meat using 3D printing…

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  • The new “Big Three” of the 3D bioprinting industry

    Just like industrial additive manufacturing, the bioprinting industry lives on extreme ups and downs. The ups bring new enthusiasm and innovation, and the downs bring back the reality of how complex it is for any new industrial segment to emerge into a real commercial opportunity. At the same time, the…

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  • 3D Systems forms Systemic Bio for drug discovery and development

    3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) formed a new, wholly owned company called Systemic Bio, a biotech company focused on the application of advanced bioprinting technologies to pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. Systemic Bio will leverage 3D Systems’ breakthrough, production-level bioprinting technology to create extremely precise vascularized organ models using biomaterials and human…

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  • Gelomics and Rousselot partner on 3D cell culture kits

    Darling Ingredients’ Health Brand, Rousselot, the global leader in collagen-based solutions, and Gelomics, the world-leading provider of fully integrated 3D cell, organoid and tissue culture technologies, have entered into a co-branding partnership. Rousselot Biomedical will supply Gelomics with its X-Pure GelMA (gelatin methacryloyl), a photo cross-linkable extracellular matrix, for use…

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  • Lab-grown meat cleared for human consumption by FDA

    Reuters reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first time cleared a lab-grown meat product, grown from animal cells for human consumption. UPSIDE Foods, a company that makes cell-cultured chicken by harvesting cells from live animals and using the cells to grow meat in stainless-steel tanks,…

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  • Brinter to take Brinter One bioprinter on European road show. Showcasing the printer at institutions in Estonia, Germany, and Poland.

    Brinter to take Brinter One bioprinter on European road show

    Finnish 3D bioprinting company, Brinter, is taking its modular 3D bioprinter on a European road trip this week – stopping in Estonia, Germany, and Poland. The printer’s first stop will be at the University of Tartu, on 12 November. On its tour, Brinter will do live demonstrations of bioprinting and…

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  • Carbon’s bioabsorbable elastomer shows biocompatibility. Samples have been designated as non-toxic with a range of full absorption times.

    Carbon’s bioabsorbable elastomer shows biocompatibility in vivo

    Carbon’s developmental bioabsorbable elastomer platform has demonstrated biocompatibility in vivo, with all samples being designated as non-toxic and exhibiting tunable times for full absorption. This latest milestone indicates the elastomer’s potential future development in biomedical lattice applications such as soft tissue repair, wound dressings, and nerve conduits. The Silicon-Valley based…

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