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

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.

  • BICO grows IP portfolio with patents in the United States and Sweden

    BICO, an expert bio convergence company, has been granted two patents relating to the regulation and control of temperatures in 3D Bioprinters. The first patent, US 11,046,001, was granted in the United States and relates to the temperature regulation of bioinks which allows for better cell viability during 3D bioprinting.…

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  • T&R Biofab introduces 3D printed PCL Craniofacial bone implants

    Bioprinting company T&R Biofab and B Braun, a major healthcare solutions provider, held a joint presentation to launch T&R’s new 3D printed PCL Craniofacial bone implants products. The event, hosted by B Braun Korea was held at the Dragon City Hotel in Seoul. During the event, T&R Biofab outlined its…

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  • Jellagen introduces first jellyfish bioink for tissue regeneration

    Jellagen, a biotech company developing a proprietary next-generation biomaterial, Collagen Type 0, entered a partnership with Copner Biotech, a pioneer in 3D bioprinting, after securing innovation funding of £123,724 from SMART Cymru. Professor Andrew Mearns Spragg, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Jellagen commented “We are absolutely delighted to partner…

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  • Humabiologics GMP hydrogels are now ISO 13485 certified

    The Humabiologics human-derived hydrogels for regenerative medicine are now ISO 13485:2016 certified as well as GMP compliant for the manufacturing of human-derived biomaterials. The scope of the certificate covers the design, manufacture, and distribution of human biomaterials, components, and sub-assemblies for use in research and development, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and…

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  • CELLINK, MatTek and Visikol launch 3D Bioprinting CRO

    BICO subsidiaries CELLINK, MatTek and Visikol launched a collaboration combining the expertise of the three companies to establish a 3D bioprinting CRO (contract research organization) with comprehensive bioprinting services. By utilizing a CRO, CELLINK, MatTek and Visikol have granted their customers access to offerings from all three companies. The partnership…

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  • Fluicell Diabetes Biopixlar

    Bioprinted insulin-releasing biocomposites show promise for diabetes therapy

    Fluicell, a Sweden-based bioprinting startup founded in 2012 as a spin-out of the Chalmers University of Technology, has undertaken research to develop medicinal products for treating type 1 diabetes. The project, which recently achieved a significant milestone, is based on biocomposite tissues generated by Fluicell’s Biopixlar system. As of today,…

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  • X-Pure GelMA, the first GMP-ready gelatin methacryloyl bioink

    First presented at Bio Digital 2020, Rousselot‘s X-Pure GelMA is the world’s first GMP-ready gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA or Gel-MOD) for preclinical and clinical applications in regenerative medicine. GelMA is a gold-standard biomaterial, ideal as a bioink for 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering, owing to its guaranteed ultra-low impurity levels and…

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  • The bioprinting industry is ready to deliver

    After so many years of anticipation and excitement for the possibilities it could offer, the bioprinting segment now seems to finally be coming into its own. The bioprinting market is starting to take shape, setting the foundations for future growth, while large medical and pharmaceutical firms look at this field…

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  • BICO acquires Advanced BioMatrix for $15M

    Bio-convergence company BICO has acquired all outstanding shares in Advanced BioMatrix Corp, an American company focusing on 3D research applications. The company’s portfolio includes collagen bioinks, high purity extracellular matrix proteins, chemically modified proteins, and polysaccharides, and other reagents and cell assays, sold to research institutions, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies.…

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  • Eardrum-restoring PhonoGraft enters commercial development

    The PhonoGraft biomimetic hearing-restoration technology, advanced through a six-year effort by a multidisciplinary research team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE)/Mass General Brigham (MGB), has now entered commercial development. If successful,…

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