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.

  • Jellatech showcases cell-based collagen bioink

    North Carolina-based biotech startup Jellatech reached a major milestone with the production of cell-based collagen. Only 2 years since it was founded, Jellatech successfully developed of a full-length, triple helical and functional collagen made from their own proprietary cell lines. ​ “This is a major milestone for us and I…

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  • United Therapeutics unveils advanced 3D printed human lung scaffolds

    United Therapeutics Corporation (Nasdaq: UTHR), a public benefit corporation working in partnership with 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE: DDD) has produced the world’s most complex 3D printed object – a human lung scaffold – and demonstrated it at the LIFE ITSELF Conference in San Diego. The event was organized and hosted…

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  • Cocuus, a 3D printed alternative protein company, raises €2.5M funding. The Pre-Series A funding round for the Spanish startup.

    Cocuus, a 3D printed alternative protein company, raises €2.5M funding

    Cocuus, a Spanish technology startup that develops industrial solutions for the production of mimetic food analogues of plant- and cell-based animal protein using 2D/3D laser printing, bioprinting, and robotics, has raised €2.5 million in its Pre Series A funding round to scale its 3D bioprinting technology for the production of…

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  • Humabiologics and REGEMAT 3D to provide human-derived biomaterials. Giving access to the European bioprinting and drug testing market.

    Humabiologics and REGEMAT 3D to provide human-derived biomaterials

    Humabiologics, an industry leader in providing human-derived biomaterials for regenerative medicine, and REGEMAT 3D, a company at the forefront of personalized biofabrication solutions, have entered into a non-exclusive distribution agreement, in a response to the growing demand, and to serve a broader life sciences customer base of industry partners and…

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  • Vivid color 3D printing ink developed by Chinese scientists. According to South China Morning Post, the biocompatible ink

    Vivid color 3D printing ink developed by Chinese scientists

    According to a report by South China Morning Post, Chinese scientists have developed a vivid 3D printing ink, that does not contain colorants, and is safe to use in toys that change color in relation to body temperature, and food decorations. Although, it is safe to assume that there are…

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  • 3DBio Therapeutics reconstructs human ear using bioprinted living tissue. In partnership with the Microtia-Congenital Ear Deformity Institute.

    3DBio Therapeutics reconstructs human ear using bioprinted living tissue

    3DBio Therapeutics, a clinical-stage regenerative medicine company, and the Microtia-Congenital Ear Deformity Institute have conducted a human ear reconstruction using the AuriNovo implant – an investigational, patient-matched, 3D bioprinted living tissue ear implant. This groundbreaking reconstructive procedure, which is in the first-in-human Phase 1/2a clinical trial, is evaluating the safety…

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  • REGEMAT3D raises €515,402 in second round of equity crowdfunding. Enabling further development of tissue and organ bioprinting technologies.

    REGEMAT3D raises €515,402 in second round of equity crowdfunding

    REGEMAT3D, based in Granada, Spain has completed its second round of equity crowdfunding. Thanks to the participation of more than 500 investors, a total of €515,402 has been raised, which will be used to continue the development of the tissue and organ bioprinting technologies that the company has been marketing…

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  • Lab-grown plant material for 3D printing developed by MIT researchers. The tunable technique is a step towards customizable wood.

    Lab-grown plant material for 3D printing developed by MIT researchers

    Scientists predict that the world’s forests could disappear in as few as 100 years, due to deforestation. In an effort to provide an environmentally friendly and low-waste alternative to conventional wood-making, researchers at MIT have developed a tunable technique to generate wood-like, lab-grown plant material, which could enable “growing” a…

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  • GOOD Meat to build largest bioreactor to cultivate 3D printable meat

    GOOD Meat, the cultivated meat division of Eat Just, Inc., signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with ABEC, Inc. to design, manufacture, install and commission the largest known bioreactors for avian and mammalian cell culture. GOOD Meat applies cutting-edge science and technology on a mission to create healthier, more sustainable foods,…

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  • Humabiologics partners with Fisher Scientific. To distribute human biomaterials for regenerative medicine research.

    Humabiologics partners with Fisher Scientific

    Humabiologics, an industry leader in providing human-derived biomaterials for regenerative medicine, founded by scientists and tissue industry experts to address the gap between the gift of donated human tissues and researchers, and Fisher Scientific, a global leader in life sciences, are partnering to serve researchers in academia and industry who…

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