Meet the New LulzBot Bio 3D Bioprinter
We are very excited to announce Print Your Mind 3D will be entering a whole new field of printing with Lulzbot, 3D bioprinting. Lulzbot, makers of the award winning Lulzbot Taz and Mini lines of printers will soon be releasing an open source, FRESH-certified 3D bioprinter named the Lulzbot Bio. This new bioprinter will enable 3D printing with materials like unmodified collagen, bioinks, and other soft materials. It has already been instrumental in printing the first-ever fully functional heart tissue.
Bioprinted heart valve
“What we've shown is that we can print pieces of the heart out of cells and collagen into parts that truly function, like a heart valve or a small beating ventricle," said Adam Feinberg, professor of biomedical engineering (BME) and materials science & engineering at Carnegie Mellon. "By using MRI data of a human heart, we were able to accurately reproduce patient-specific anatomical structure and 3D bioprint collagen and human heart cells."
With a strong background for manufacturing industry leading 3D printers running nearly a decade, Lulzbot brings this expertise to the exciting market of bioprinting with the Lulzbot Bio, their first-ever Fluid Deposition Fabrication (FDF) 3D printer. One of the unique aspects of the Bio is its syringe pump system which offers precise stopping and retraction, unlike its pneumatic counterparts. This prevents unintentional extrusion and stringing while printing intricate models such as vasculature. As always with Lulzbot, the printer will be open source which offers a versatile platform for innovation and removes proprietary restrictions common in the industry.
Collagen is prominent in biological structures, making collagen bioinks one of the most promising materials for bioprinting applications. However, it has proven extremely difficult to print with in its unmodified form. The LulzBot Bio enables printing with unmodified collagen using the FRESH 2.0 method. Developed and refined by the Regenerative Biomaterials & Therapeutics Group at Carnegie Mellon University, FRESH bioprinting uses thermoreversible support gels to hold soft materials during printing. The temporary support gel is dissolved, leaving the print intact.
“Other bioprinting techniques often require materials to be chemically altered or mixed with other materials to make them 3D printable,” said Steven Abadie, Aleph Objects CTO. “Because of the excellent biocompatibility of collagen, being able to 3D print with it in its original form brings us that much closer to recreating models that mimic human physiology.”
An extensive range of applications
Pharmaceutical & cosmetic testing –
- In vitro (in a test tube) testing aims to reduce failure rate (currently 90%+) of bringing drugs to market (costs ~$2.5b in 2018) by testing on bioprinted tissues in pre-clinical testing. The goal is to reduce failure when moving to phase 3 (clinical) trials (estimated 50% failure rate in clinical trials).
- Can be used to recreate physiology to study disease.
- Testing on kidney and liver cells are of particular importance.
Tissue Engineering – The practice of combining scaffolds, cells, and biologically active molecules into functional tissues.
- Long term goal of bioprinting human organs.
- Regenerative Medicine – The process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function.
- Education – The bio is expected to be extremely impactful for teaching life sciences in K-12.
What have they printed with the Lulzbot Bio?
- Functional tissue with contractility (includes heart tissues)
- Collagen heart valve that can support pulsatile flow
- Beating ventricle made of human heart cells
- Multi-scale vasculature (from 5mm down to 100 microns). This was able to support live cells for a week.
- Artery trees
Why is the Lulzbot Bio the best available desktop 3D bioprinter?
- Able to print unmodified collagen and other soft materials. Other bioprinting techniques often require chemical alteration or mixing of materials to enable / improve ‘printability’.
- Hardware / software is easily configurable for new materials and processes.
- Open material format. No proprietary materials.
- More affordable than most market options.
- Bigger maximum print area than most competitors. The compact design easily fits within laminar flow cabinets or tissue culture hoods.
- LulzBot has a long standing reputation for exceptional print quality. Print quality is said to match or exceed $100k+ machines.
- Some of the best print quality for FFF style bioprinters.
- Improved print quality by an order of an magnitude over Fresh 1.0 (250 μm to 20 μm)
- Comes with a generous supply (50g) of Sodium Alginate (this material alone would cost up to $32,000 from other companies)
Syringe pump system enables printing of highly intricate structures such as blood vessels and artery trees
- Better control of stopping / retraction which reduces oozing.
- Pneumatic systems only have positive pressure and near zero pressure.
- For pneumatic systems, the pressure required to extrude materials is not linear and variable based on the amount of material in the system.
- It is speculated that some of the pneumatic systems on the market lack adequate pressure to dispense highly viscous materials.