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.

  • CollPlant advances 3D bioprinted regenerative breast implants. By initiating a study in large animals for its breast implant program.

    CollPlant advances 3D bioprinted regenerative breast implants

    CollPlant, a regenerative and aesthetics medicine company developing innovative technologies and products for tissue regeneration and organ manufacturing, has initiated a study in large animals for its 3D bioprinted regenerative breast implant program – addressing the reported $2.8 billion global breast implant market. “This study is a quantum leap in…

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  • New wearable biomaterial inks, that mimic native characteristics of highly conductive human tissue, were developed by Texas A&M researchers.

    Wearable biomaterial inks developed by researchers

    A team of researchers at Texas A&M University has developed a new class of biomaterial inks that mimic native characteristics of highly conductive human tissue, much like skin, which are essential for the ink to be used in 3D printing. This biomaterial ink leverages a new class of 2D nanomaterials…

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  • CELLINK and IISc to establish a Centre of Excellence in India. Focussing on advancing medical research through 3D bioprinting.

    CELLINK and IISc to establish a Centre of Excellence in India

    CELLINK, a global leader in developing 3D bioprinters, and The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are partnering to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for 3D bioprinting in Bengaluru, India. The CoE, the first of its kind in the sub-continent, will be housed in the Centre for BioSystems Science and…

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  • GrowInk UPM

    A closer look at ten bioink material companies you should know

    Just like in any segment of additive manufacturing (polymers, metals, ceramics, composites), the market for bioprinting inks—or bioinks—is the key element to understanding, determining and assessing the evolution of the entire segment. Bioprinting hardware technologies are now more established and the development of viable bioprinting applications is now dependent on…

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  • Prellis Biologics appoints new CEO and raises $35 million. Dr. Michael Nohaile joins the company as it closes its Series C funding round.

    Prellis Biologics appoints new CEO and raises $35 million

    Prellis Biologics, a biotherapeutics company utilizing its proprietary, high-resolution bioprinting technology to recreate and engineer human tissues in vitro, has appointed Michael Nohaile, PhD as its new CEO, and has raised a $35 million Series C funding round, co-led by Celesta Capital and Avidity Partners with participation from Khosla Ventures,…

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  • 3D biofabrication of meat: myth or reality?

    The risk has never been higher than in recent times as brave and passionate entrepreneurs attempt to pave the way for this new world of three-dimensional (3D) lab-grown cell cultivated, plant-based & hybrid meat, fish, and other food alternatives. The demand for alternative meat and the removal of animals from…

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  • Puredyne refines bioprinting process. Using Puredyne print heads and precision dispensing needles from the Japanese manufacturer, Tecdia.

    Puredyne refines bioprinting process

    When 3D bioprinting with organic substances, it is hard to overstate the importance of not damaging the cells. Print heads from Puredyne, a brand of the established dispensing specialist ViscoTec, already prioritize this through demonstrably high-precision and low-shear dispensing, although the printing results are always dependent on the dispensing needle used,…

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  • Carl Zeiss Meditec and Precise Bio to develop fabricated corneal tissue. For transplants in patients that require endothelial keratoplasty.

    Carl Zeiss Meditec and Precise Bio to develop fabricated corneal tissue

    Carl Zeiss Meditec, one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, and Precise Bio, a regenerative medicine company advancing the use of bio-printed tissues and organs, have entered into a partnership to develop and commercialize fabricated corneal tissue for transplants in patients that require endothelial keratoplasty and natural lenticule transplants…

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  • MeaTech and Umami Meats to collaborate on 3D printed seafood. Giving both companies access to the Singaporean market.

    MeaTech and Umami Meats to collaborate on 3D printed seafood

    MeaTech 3D Ltd., an international deep-tech food company at the forefront of the cultured meat industry, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Umami Meats, a Singapore-based cultured seafood company with a focus on developing species that are expected to experience severe supply-side shortages in the coming years due to…

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  • MSU researchers develop 3D printing technology to create biofilms. Kathryn Zimlich and Isaak Thornton are replicating microbial mosaics..

    MSU researchers develop 3D printing technology to create biofilms

    Combatting life-threatening bacterial infections, reducing slime that clogs pipes, and preventing plaque buildup on teeth could all, one day, benefit from a new technology being developed by Montana State University (MSU) researchers, Kathryn Zimlich and Isaak Thornton. When bacteria and other microbes stick to surfaces and create slimy mats, called…

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