A group of researchers has developed a method of three-dimensional printing – hydrogel stereolithography, so scientists have accelerated the manufacture of organs by 10-50 times. Technology can come to the aid of people who are in line for donor organs.
Scientists have presented an organ that would have taken six hours to create using traditional printing methods; however, scientists made it in 19 minutes. According to engineers at the University of Buffalo, they have made such progress due to the introduction of new printing technology that could save tens of thousands of patients.
“The technology we have developed is 10-50 times faster than the industry standard, and it works with large samples that were previously difficult to manufacture,” notes study co-author Ruogang Zhao. They published the study in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.
The method is based on hydrogels, which are used to create diapers, contact lenses and materials for tissue engineering. The latter application is especially useful in 3D printing, and it is on this that the research team has spent most of their efforts optimizing them for fast and accurate 3D printing techniques.
“Our method allows you to quickly print centimeter-sized hydrogels. It significantly reduces deformation of parts and damage to cells caused by prolonged exposure to the environment, which is usually seen with conventional 3D printing methods, ”notes another co-author of the study, Chi Zhou.
The researchers say the technique is especially suitable for printing cells with embedded blood vessel networks, a nascent technology that will become a central part of the production of human tissues and organs through 3D printing.