A DIY BioPrinter for About $150
Kyle Maxey posted on January 25, 2013 |

3D printers that use biological materials rather than plastics or metals can revolutionize how scientists engineer tissues.

Until now, the costs of such machines were insurmountable at upwards of $200,000. All of that, however, is about to change: for  $150 dollars and a few hours’ work, you, too, can have your very own bioprinter.

The Bay Area biotech firm BioCurious have released detailed plans for constructing one of these machines at home.  Created with the help of Lawrence Livermore Labs researcher Patrik D'haeseleer, this do-it-yourself bioprinter is made from salvaged printer parts, CD drives, an Arduino chip and a few other purchased components.

While BioCurious’ bioprinter might not be capable of printing complex human tissues, it does allow amateurs to experiment with biological materials. Dr. D'haeseleer had a few suggestions:

- Print gradients of nutrients and/or antibiotics on a layer of cells to study combinatorial interactions - or even to select different isolates from an environmental sample.

- Print patterns of growth factors on a layer of eukaryotic cells to study cell differentiation.

- Print two or more microbial species at different distances from each other, to study metabolic interactions.

- Set up a computational problem as a 2D pattern of engineered microbes on an agar plate.

- Study Reaction-Diffusion systems

- Print 3D structures by over-printing layers using the inkjet head. Now you can consider doing all the above in 3D!

- Print cell in a sodium alginate solution, onto a surface soaked in calcium chloride, to build up 3D gel structures (similar to spherification process in Molecular Gastronomy)

For a short introduction to BioCurious’ bioprinter watch the video below:

Images and Video Courtesy of Patrik D'haeseleer & BioCurious

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