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.

  • CELLINK bioprinting focus

    CELLINK is changing its name to BICO

    CELLINK, one of the first companies to emerge as a major global player in the bioprinting industry, is going to change its name to BICO. The new name reflects the Group’s strategic bio-convergence agenda and emphasizes that the company now comprises a Group consisting of several subsidiaries divided into three…

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  • CELLINK acquires Discover Echo for its innovative microscopy technology

    CELLINK has entered into an agreement with the shareholders of Discover Echo Inc to acquire all assets of the company for a total sum of $110 million. Approximately eleven percent of the purchase price will be paid in newly issued shares of series B in CELLINK and the remaining part…

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  • Desktop Health adds PhonoGraft biofabrication platform

    Desktop Health has added the PhonoGraft platform to its technology portfolio, with the potential to support the body’s functional and morphological regeneration of the tympanic membrane. This biofabrication technology may also offer a promising pathway for soft tissue regeneration for a wide range of healthcare applications. The PhonoGraft technology was…

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  • 3D Systems and CollPlant extend partnership to include bioprinted breast reconstruction

    After first consolidating a partnership around the development of bioprinted tissue and scaffolding, 3D Systems and CollPlant Biotechnologies have signed a new co-development agreement for a 3D bioprinted regenerative soft tissue matrix for use in breast reconstruction procedures in combination with an implant. The soft tissue matrix is intended to…

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  • FluidForm to develop new 3D bioprinting solutions for J&J

    FluidForm, an expert in the field of human tissue for research, repair, and replacement signed an agreement with Ethicon, a member of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, to develop 3D bioprinted applications using FluidForm’s patented FRESH technology. This collaboration leverages FluidForm’s FRESH 3D bioprinting platform to achieve specific…

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  • Ourobionics forms strategic alliance with Invictech

    Ourobionics is officially presenting its co-founding team, formed by professionals with over 50 years of combined expertise in tissue engineering, 3D biofabrication, regenerative medicine, and cyborganics/human-machine interfaces. The company is also formalizing a partnership with Invictech that sets the grounds for developing a multiplex 3D biofabrication platform. Professor Suwan Jayasinghe  (University…

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  • Humabiologics introduces first commercial native human collagen bioinks

    Humabiologics introduced the world’s first native human collagen bioinks and gelatin bioinks. These bioinks are affordable and more clinically relevant, enabling researchers to advance the translational research of bioprinted human organs and tissues. The company was founded by current CEO Mohammad Albanna, leveraging extensive experience in the field of Tissue…

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  • CELLINK acquires Nanoscribe to offer commercial 2PP technology

    CELLINK, one of the fastest-growing bioprinting technology companies, has entered into an agreement with the shareholders of Nanoscribe Holding GmbH, a pioneering German company focusing on the development of high-precision 3D printers based on Two-Photon Polymerization technology (2PP). As per the agreement, CELLINK will acquire all outstanding shares on a…

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  • Fluicell Biopixlar

    Fluicell advancing Biopixlar platform for therapeutic bioprinting

    Swedish bioprinting startup Fluicell made a big break into the bioprinting market in 2019 with the launch of its Biopixlar system, capable of 2D and 3D printing. Now, over a year since the initial launch, the company is still developing its technology to advance its viability for therapeutic applications. Specifically,…

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  • 3D Systems continues push into bioprinting with Allevi deal

    The research community is critical to developing breakthrough innovations in regenerative medicine. 3D Systems, with the addition of Allevi Inc, is now able to provide a robust set of Allevi by 3D Systems bioprinting solutions to researchers and industry giants in hundreds of labs globally. Allevi is a leading innovator…

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