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.

  • Nanoscribe launches Quantum X align

    Nanoscribe, a BICO company, will debut the Quantum X align, a new high-performance 3D printer at the Photonics West Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco. The Quantum X align is the first 3D printer with advanced 3D alignment capabilities that enables the printing of freeform micro-optical elements directly onto optical…

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  • Polish additive R&D company Sygnis debuts on the stock exchange

    At the end of 2021, the National Court Register registered the merger of MODE S.A., listed on the NewConnect Stock Exchange, and Sygnis New Technologies sp. z o.o. Since then Sygnis – one of the longest-established companies in the Polish 3D printing market – is present on the Stock Exchange.…

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  • Utrecht, a biofabrication wonderland

    A wonderland, by definition, is a land or place full of wonderful things; when it comes to the sector of biofabrication, this is true for the city of Utrecht. This opinion editorial is a tribute to my almost three years in Utrecht and all of the innovators, start-ups, and colleagues…

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  • BICO partners with the CCS to reduce animal testing in life sciences

    BICO, a leading bio convergence company, entered a partnership with the Center for Contemporary Sciences (CCS), a research and advocacy organization championing the advancement of human-relevant methodologies in scientific research and drug discovery. Together the two organizations plan to closely align strategy and outreach efforts to support the passage of…

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  • Rousselot partners with Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation

    Rousselot, Darling Ingredients’ health brand and the world’s leader of collagen-based solutions, has partnered with the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI), a California-based research institute focused on regenerative medicine. Through this strategic partnership, Rousselot and TIBI will collaborate on the development of gelatin-based therapies and their translation to the…

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  • Rousselot’s ultra-pure GMP-grade2 gelatins outperform standard ones

    Rousselot, Darling Ingredients’ health brand and expert of collagen-based solutions, revealed the results of a new study which demonstrates that Rousselot’s ultra-pure GMP-grade gelatins outperformed standard non-endotoxin purified research-grade gelatins and other coating materials in 2D cell culture. Data demonstrate that endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) levels and the nature of biomaterials…

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  • The rise of the 4D bioprinting industry

    When I first heard of 4D, I thought it was nothing more than a marketing gimmick. I was starting to feel like we were staring down the barrel of a gun and avoiding the rabbit holes of the current need for improved realistic applications with limited technological complexity. It seemed…

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  • Inventia Life Science accelerates growth with $25M Series B

    Inventia Life Science, a leader in advanced 3D cell cultures for research and clinical purposes, closed a US $25M Series B funding round, led by Blackbird Ventures. Inventia has also announced the launch of its US operations with the appointment of Dwayne Dexter as its Director of US Sales. Through…

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  • Regemat3D Biogelx partnership

    Bioprinting company REGEMAT3D to open equity crowd funding round

    Bioprinter manufacturer REGEMAT3D is launching a new equity crowdfunding round, that will help the company further scale its business and product lines while preparing for an IPO set to take place in 2023. At 3dpbm we usually do not cover crowdfunding campaigns for new products, however, this initiative is relative…

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  • Brinter and LED Tailor implement bioprinter disinfection system

    Bioprinting startup Brinter has today announced a partnership with LED Tailor to introduce the new Spectral Blue disinfecting blue light feature embedded in its multi-material 3D bioprinting solution Brinter. The system enables the safe production of e.g. tissue models and drugs, and minimizes the need for separate cleanrooms, making bioprinters…

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