The growing popularity of bioprinting technology requires systematizing information on this matter. This article begins a series of subsequent materials that will cover topics in the field of bioprinting as well as its potential applications and possible solutions. The articles are based on the current achievements of science, described in scientific articles, but please be aware, that they are popular science, whose aim is to bring the essence of the problem to the most accessible way.

The definition of bioprinting

The innovativeness of the technology affects the fact that many of its aspects have not been systematized. It is no different with the definition – on the website of the project “The latest Polish vocabulary” implemented by the University of Warsaw we can find:

Bioprinting – production of tissues or organs from living cells using a 3D printer.

Example of use: Bioprinting is a method inspired by 3D printing. Cells are suspended in a special gel and put in selective manner layer by layer, creating three-dimensional structures resembling the tissue.

Professor Anthony Atala – one of the world’s pioneers of bioprinting technology, describes it in a more comprehensive way as: “applying layer after a layer of biological, biochemical or filled with living cells material in a threedimensional and controlled way to create functional components that allow the fabrication of 3D structures.

Types of bioprinting

Based on the knowledge available in the scientific literature, we can distinguish two types of bioprinting:

  • indirect – which allows the production of scaffolds, which are then populated with cells,
  • direct – giving the possibility of biological material with living cells, which determines, among others their optimal development in the whole area of ​​the 3D printed model, which shows a greater similarity to naturally occurring tissues.

What is to be remembered is the bioprinter is only a tool that can simplify the work of scientists and broaden the horizons of their capabilities. The real value is applications, where bioprinting can optimize the processes previously performed with traditional methods.

What’s more, bioprinting is not an action that can function in isolation from other processes. The biofabrication can be divided into three basic ones:

  • before bioprinting process – first scientist need to prepare 3D model of object they are going to bioprint; data collected during medical imaging (computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging) is very helpful
  • during bioprinting process – a previously designed 3D model is bioprinted with a bio-based, or previously developed biological material, developed for the needs of the application; there are several techniques for it, but for each method, the process environment must be controlled – temperature, pressure or pH
  • after bioprinting process – the bioprinted model is planted with cells and then placed under conditions that enable them to develop in fully controlled way.

We hope that the introductory article has made it possible to understand the basic issues in the field of bioprinting. In the next article you will find detailed information about its history and previous achievements in this field.

Magdalena Przychodniak
Editor-in-Chief of the 3D Printing Center. A biomedical engineer following the latest reports on bioprinting and 3D printing in modern medicine.

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