Desktop bioprinting is moving along parallel lines as standard desktop 3D printing. What they both need to grow are shared resources that enable knowledge and awareness to spread throughout the global community. Biobots‘ answer is the newly launched Build with Life online portal.
As the first manufacturer of a low cost, commercially available bioprinter in the world, BioBots (read more about the company on its 3D Printing Business Directory page) has assumed a leadership role in a rapidly evolving and incredibly fascinating segment of digital, additive manufacturing.
“We have been able to penetrate the market so quickly that it really has not been an issue of competition,” Danny Cabrera, Biobots Founder and CEO, explains. “We have already been shipping the machines for almost two years and people still keep launching new projects so it seems that demand is pretty high. We are shipping a lot of machines to a lot of different types of customers, from big pharma companies to device companies, research organization and universities.”
To help all these different users communicate and share resources, wherever possible, Booboos has created the Build with Life repository portal. It is meant to be a “wiki” for desktop bioprinting and place that uses new media to enable those who work on this technology to come together and share developments. “On the wiki side we are trying to make text and informational resources to enable everyone to get up to speed in bioprinting technology and applications,” Cabrera explains. “then there is a central protocol section that people can read up on and share, tracing a path to the creation of standards in bioprinted biology. The last part of it is dedicated to experimental logs and to sharing experiences.”
In this first phase Biobots is using the Build with Life portal to share its own experiences with the entire bioprinting community. The goal is to make this become a standard practice for many of those working with the Biobot1 and other bioprinters, so that new users and students can use it as a place to start to learn about the new possibilities offered by desktop bioprinting in science and biofabrication.
Bioengineers use mostly naturally derived bioinks such as collagen, alginate, gelatin or biomaterial and hydrogel that they are already used to work with. “What we have been working on internally is taking these biomaterials and customizing them for bioprinting. People are now working on printing things such as blood vessels or miniature liver tissue for drug screening, skin for cosmetics testing and cartilage for implantation into animals and humans. The field of potential commercial applications is already incredibly wide.”
More than an evolution of standard scientific “peer reviews” using new media, the Build with Life network is meant to build up a community along the same lines that other pioneering companies in standard 3D printing – such as for example Ultimaker – have done to raise awareness on their technological capabilities.
“It is just about open access,” says Cabrera, “a way for people to come together and start speaking the same language.” With biology, of course, it is more complicated than just downloading an STL file. The biopritning process itself is part of a long chain that includes many different materials and cell types, culturing, and several protocols follow after the print. “Build with Life wants to provide shared information on what happens before and after the prints as well,” Cabrera concludes.