Fluicell, a biotech company founded as a spin-off from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, has introduced a new 3D bioprinter: Biopixlar. The company’s new bioprinting system adds to its existing portfolio of biotech products comprising the BioPen, the first single-cell lab-on-a-tip tool, and Dynaflow Resolve, a secondary ion channel screening platform.
Biopixlar is a high-resolution bioprinter with both 2D and 3D printing capabilities. The system is described as a “completely new type of bioprinter” because of its ability to position individual cells in 3D structures to achieve extremely high cellular resolution and precision.
Designed primarily for research and discovery applications, the bioprinting platform gives scientists the necessary tools for constructing tissue models for drug development, disease understanding, regenerative medicine research and more.
The Biopixlar system
The Biopixlar system consists of more than just the bioprinter, as it also includes specialized software and a gamepad interface. All three elements are set up on an optical table.
The main component, the bioprinter, is equipped with a micromanipulator arm and a motorized stage which enable the user to accurately position the printer head. The printer head, made from a medical-grade elastomer, is based on Fluicell’s microfluidic technology and can be used with a range of cell types. The printer head also integrates wells that contain cell suspension, reactant solutions and that collect waste.
Another notable feature of the bioprinter is a “holder”, which is essentially a pressure manifold that ensures a closed system. In other words, the holder connects the microfluidic printer head to the precision pressure controller. The bioprinter also comes with a built-in air-flow control, printer head heating, illumination for the print chamber and surrounding area and UV light sterilization (optional). Users can also benefit from real-time monitoring of the bioprinting process and post-print analysis.
Crucial to the Biopixlar’s setup are its dedicated software program and gamepad interface. The software allows users to easily configure the bioprinting process and control the bioprinter and print head. The software integrates various tools, including printer head positioning, cell type selection, deposition mode, print speed and environmental controls.
The gamepad, for its part, introduces an “entirely new way to experience bioprinting” by making the control process much more tactile. Things like printer head positioning and cell deposition can be controlled using the gamepad, offering a more intuitive interface for working with the bioprinter. For more simple 2D structures, the Biopixlar system also comes with a graphical user interface.
The three-part Biopixlar system is versatile and can be used for single-cell or complex multi-cellular printing. According to Fluicell, a single microfluidic printer head can print up to three different cell types, and more can be achieved by changing the printer head.
“We have been beta-testing the Biopixlar platform for two months now and we are very pleased with its performance,” said Mattias Karlsson, CEO of Cellectricon AB, a disease research company. “The platform is running smoothly, and we really like the gamepad which we think is a very innovative interface to work with. We are currently developing protocols for printing of different neuronal cells types.
“The capability of this exciting technology to enable precise control of the cellular composition and spatial distribution within a cell culture has the potential to open up completely new avenues for in-vitro modeling of a wide range of central and peripheral nervous system-related diseases.”