Living tissue emerges from 3D printer image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

This was reposted from The Txchnologist.

Harvard bioengineers say they have taken a big step toward using 3-D printers to make living tissue. They’ve made a machine with multiple printer heads that each extrudes a different biological building block to make complex tissue and blood vessels.

Their work represents a significant advance toward producing living medical models upon which drugs could be tested for safety and effectiveness.

It also advances the ball in the direction of an even bigger goal. Such a machine and the techniques being refined by researchers offer a glimpse of the early steps in a sci-fi healthcare scenario: One day surgeons might feed detailed CT scans of human body parts into a 3-D printer, manipulate them with design software, and produce healthy replacements for diseased or injured tissues or organs.

embedding 3D vascular networks.image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

The Wyss team designed a printer that can precisely print multiple materials in 3D to create intricate patterns. Then they addressed a challenge in tissue engineering: embedding 3D vascular networks.

“This is the foundational step toward creating 3-D living tissue,” said Jennifer Lewis, senior author of the study published Feb. 18 in the journal Advanced Materials, in a university release.

The work, performed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, allows engineers to embed vascular networks into 3-D printed cellular agglomerations. These tiny vessels are critical to increasing the size of synthesized tissues because they provide a path for nutrients in and wastes out of cells laid down deep inside the printed products. Such networks mimic those found in natural tissues.

To make the tissue construct, Lewis’s team produced three “bio-inks” that are laid down by separate printer heads. One ink contains extracellular matrix, a complex mixture of water, proteins and carbohydrates that connects individual cells together to form tissues. Another contains extracellular matrix and living cells. A third used to make the vessels unusually melts as it cools so that researchers could chill the sample and suck out the ink to leave behind hollow tubes.

Lewis and her team can then seed the hollow tubes with endothelial cells, which grow into blood-vessel lining.

“fugitive” ink that can easily be printed image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

The team developed a “fugitive” ink that can easily be printed, then suctioned off to create open microchannels that can then be populated with blood-vessel-lining cells to allow blood to flow.

“Tissue engineers have been waiting for a method like this,” said the Wyss Institute’s Dr. Don Ingber. “The ability to form functional vascular networks in 3D tissues before they are implanted not only enables thicker tissues to be formed, it also raises the possibility of surgically connecting these networks to the natural vasculature to promote immediate perfusion of the implanted tissue, which should greatly increase their engraftment and survival.”

5_Figure 4_WEAVE Structure_5

Using their custom-built printer, the fugitive ink for the vasculature, and other biological inks containing extracellular matrix and human cells, the researchers printed a 3-D tissue construct.

All Images: Gifs made from Vimeo movies of the Wyss Institute printing process. Courtesy Wyss Institute/Harvard.

Henry Sapiecha

3D IMAGERY THE SOLUTION FOR SMITHSONIAN DISPLAY PROBLEMS

What  you do when you’re the world’s largest museum but can display only two percent of the 137 million items in your collection (a mere 2.75 million) at any given time? In an effort to get more of their treasures into the public eye, specialists at the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 collective museums and galleries hit upon the solution of digitizing their collection and 3D printing key models and displays suitable for traveling exhibitions. It’s a tall order, but one that’s sure to give the rapidly blooming business of additive manufacturing a huge boost.

In the past, whenever curators wanted to duplicate an object, they turned to traditional rubber molds and plaster casts. Now, with the Smithsonian’s budding digitization initiative coming up to speed, teams can deploy expensive minimally-invasive laser scanners to generate virtual models of items in the collection with micron-level accuracy. Large additive manufacturing companies, such as RedEye on Demand, can then take those files and generate actual physical replicas suitable for display or loan to other museums, or even schools. The savings on insurance premiums alone could go a long way toward defraying the cost of the massive scanning project.

The program’s two co-coordinators, Adam Metallo and Vincent Rossi, both with fine art backgrounds, began at the museum as model makers. Eventually they managed to secure a grant for a 3D scanner which they knew could generate far better models when teamed with a quality 3D printer. A recent effort resulted in what the Smithsonian calls the “largest 3D printed museum quality historical replica” in the world – a statue of Thomas Jefferson identical to the one on display at Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

“Our mission,” Rossi told SPAR, “is to digitize these huge collections in 3D – everything from insects to aircraft. Our day-to-day job is essentially trying to figure out how to actually accomplish that.” They’ll certainly have their hands full – the museums’ collections literally fill acres of storage space in several facilities scattered around the region.

Unfortunately, funding for the project is still scarce, so Metallo and Rossi split their time between digitizing artifacts with laser or CT scanners (or open-source cloud-based digitization software and standard digital cameras) and touting their services to the museum’s many researchers, curators and conservators, as well as potential corporate sponsors, hoping to drum up support.

“The one resource we have plenty of is amazing content,” Rossi mused, “and along with that comes frustrating problems for us, but they’re potentially interesting problems for the industry. How do we take 3D digitization and take it to the Smithsonian scale? We’re at the ground floor of trying to understand that.”

Indeed, one major issue with archival scans is how to store the digital files so that they’ll be accessible decades into the future, when formats will surely have changed. With millions upon millions of items yet to be scanned, it appears we’ll just have to wait to see how things shape up on that front.

Rossi and Metallo will report on their Smithsonian work at SPAR International 2012, April 15-18, in Houston.

Source: SPAR Point Group via CNET

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Check this out here as MakerBot unveils its new 3D printer, the Replicator


The folks at MakerBot Industries have not exactly been resting on their laurels since causing a stir at CES last year with the Thing-o-Matic 3D printer. Even though the original small object creation device would still see the jaws of most people dropping in wonder, the company has now unveiled a new model at CES 2012 called the Replicator that is not only capable of fabricating much bigger objects than its predecessor, but can also do so in two colors at the same time.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha