The 2015 "K50" companies are being introduced to the Los Angeles community on October 13, 2015 at the Kairos Global Summit. Philly-based company "BioBots" - a bioprinter - builds its print from human tissues like collagen, PEG, fibrin and other materials that can readily be implemented to serve and solve a variety of conditions and structural imperfections.
The upshot of the ready availability of printers like the Biobot could deliver low-cost temporary, semi-permanent or even permanent solutions to a suite of conditions for a diverse host of socio-economically diverse patients. At present, the "low-cost" unit costs $10,000.
How's it work?
Step 1. Model the object you want: "Similar to a normal printer, the BioBot needs a document to go off of while printing. With our software, users can print objects imported from digital 3D file formats such as STL. These need to be made beforehand on common programs like SolidWorks, and the BioBots will print them using the biomaterial of your choice. The printers have a 100-micron resolution, so they can handle very small details! In general, the more viscous the material, the greater the resolution. There’s a great degree of control and ease-of-use."
Step 2. Pick a material: "The BioBots printers can use a wide variety of “inks” to make useful 3D structures. The key is that they can print with biocompatible materials, such as polyethylene glycol, collagen, fibrin, gelatin, and Pluronic F-127. These materials can be used to print things like lattices for cell culture, cylinders that model blood vasculature, and even cartilage knee caps."
Step 3. Print: "First, the printing platform needs to be calibrated so that its surface lies flat and perpendicular to the nozzle. The BioBot then uses compressed air to force biomaterial out layer by layer, with a high degree of precision. Depending on the material, the printer may shine a blue light too to cure it on contact. And that’s it! Pretty soon, the structure will be rendered in 3D, ready to use for biological experiments, mechanical testing, or even clinical applications.
The inks can be customized too. For example, gelatin can be modified to become photocurable, so that it hardens when exposed to blue light—as pictured above. Pluronic F-127 has a cool property too: it’s normally very rigid, but dissolves easily in cold water. This is especially useful if you want to wash out the F-127 scaffold after forming a 3D structure with it, leaving only cells, for example."
Wondering what you'd do with it? Biobots own Ishmam Ahmed blogged about his top "10 Cool Things You Could Print with a 3D Bioprinter in the Near Future." Check it out:
2. Microfluidic chips (think pregnancy tests, but printable)
3. The cell scaffold for a new heart
4. An ear, using PEG - a biomaterial that mimics cartilage
5. A model of a patient's skull
6. Antibiotics (imagine printing vitamins or medicine, especially in developing nations
7. A new set of pearly whites [aka teeth]
8. Sheets of skin for drug testing (this could take animal testing out of the equation and doesn't need skin from actual human donors
9. A customized cast or protective armor
10. Replacement blood vessels (great for heart attach or wound victims)