Feb 4, 2016 | By Kira

Irish 3D bioprinting startup Ourobotics has just introduced their second ‘revolution’ to the bioprinting industry: an entirely open source 3D bioprinter called the Renegade that can be assembled for under $900. The Reprap-based Renegade 3D bioprinter was designed specifically to open up 3D bioprinting technology to the educational and biomaking communities, and the free, DIY instructions are now available to download via Ourobotics and 3Ders.org.

3D bioprinting is one of the fastest growing and important subsets of 3D printing technology—already, 3D bioprinted implants have been used in complex, life-saving surgeries, while 3D printed tissue and organs can be used for drug and toxicity tests, reducing the need for animal testing and providing better insight into the human body itself. Recently, a 3D bioprinted brain revealed the physics behind human cortex development, and in the near future, entirely 3D printed organs will help close the tremendous gap between patients in need and available organ donors.

Yet despite recent major advances in 3D bioprinting, the technology is still prohibitively expensive, and therefore remains largely in the hands of a few high-profile bioprinting corporations. Irish 3D bioprinting startup, Ourobotics, is out to change that once and for all by breaking the bioprinting industry wide open.

Previously, we broke the story of Ourobotics’ modular and upgradable Revolution 3D Bioprinter, which can not only 3D print with 10+ materials within a single structure, including bioinks, conductive inks, gels and more, but is also available for around $13,000—10 times less than the cost of many other popular 3D bioprinters currently available on the market.

Now, Ourobotics has released an entirely open source, customizable, syringe-extrusion based 3D bioprinter called the Renegade, created specifically to get 3D bioprinting technology into the hands of as many students, educators, and prospective biomakers as possible.

“We’re calling it the Renegade because it’s different from the Revolution in that it will be open sourced,” Dr. Stephen G. Gray, Co-Founder of Ourobotics, told 3Ders.org. “The Renegade is supposed to be disruptive, it’s supposed to see what people can do when they actually have access to building these machines.”

Though it is a considerably more paired-down model than the Revolution, without the 10+ multi-material and re-tooling capabilities, the idea behind Ourobotics’ open source 3D bioprinter model is that by releasing a basic, upgradeable machine to the educational and biomaking communities, users from a wide variety of backgrounds will, firstly, be introduced to 3D bioprinting technology at an early stage, and secondly, contribute their own ideas, design their own upgrades, and ultimately create machines tailored to their specific bioprinting needs.

“The way I see it is that you could bring [the Renegade] into universities, into schools, you could have highschool students or undergraduate students learning how to do bioprinting, or how to build their own printers,” said Gray. “People see them as these really expensive pieces of machinery, but I say, to be honest, the Ourobotics bioprinter is quite affordable, but even a lower level than that, if you just want to teach people how to do it, you can open source a basic bioprinter and teach them the essentials to get started.”

In addition to releasing instructions for the open source, RepRap-based 3D bioprinter (which is largely based on Richard Horne’s open source Universal Paste Extruder design), Ourobotics also plans to offer a service to build and sell customized 3D bioprinters or novel bioprinting extrusion heads for a fraction of the price of what you can currently find on the market—according to Gray, it would cost between £500-600 ($700-900) to make a custom bioprinting machine from scratch, or Ourobotics could assemble one for £900-1,250 ($13,000-18,500) depending on the features.

“We would then be able to work on upgrades, like an incubator facility for the basic bioprinter, and different types of heads so you could print with UV, you could print with other materials, and then having more than one extrusion head,” he added. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but only once the question of access has been resolved.

Ourobotics was founded by Jemma Redmond (who just took home the top prize at the SVOD Europe startup competition), Oskana Anilionyte, Dr. Dominic Southgate, Dr. Andrew Comerford, and finally Stephen G. Gray, a PhD candidate at Weinberg's Lab, and postdoctoral research associate at Prof Roger Kamm's Lab, based between biological engineering at MIT and SMART Centre Singapore. He is also the co-founder and CEO of bioChanges, and Visiting lecturer at Dyson School of Design Engineering Imperial College London/ Royal College of Art and Design.

“I started to modify standard rep rap printers into bioprinters as a hobby two years ago external to my biomaterial research when the field was in its infancy,” he said. At that time, Dr. Dominic Southgate of the Imperial College invited him to co-supervise a team that developed a customized bioprinter to create a pressure-sensitive wheelchair mat with the Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge. “The 3D bioprinter that came out of that project was a very basic model, but would nevertheless form the basis of what was to come,” continued Gray.

A few years later, he encountered Redmond, “the first person that I met with the potential to revolutionize the 3D bioprinting industry,” and they embarked on their ambitious Ourobotics journey.

The latest version of the Revolution Bioprinter, with a newly designed and soon to be launched built-in incubator

As for the Renegade 3D Bioprinter specifically, the talented development team consists of lead designer Oksana Anilinyote of RCA/MIT Media Lab; software expert Andrew Comerford of Imperial College London/Kings; Raunaq Bose of Imperial College London/RCA; and Sim Castle of TU Delft, with Dr. Dominic Southgate filling the role of Design Advisor.

What Gray believes sets Ourobotics apart from other 3D bioprinting companies is their commitment not only to develop modular and affordable hardware, but also to collaborate with partners across academia, the medical industry, pharmaceutical companies, and more in order to truly push 3D bioprinting technology forward.

“We’re selling the hardware and it's quite affordable, but that’s not the vision for Ourobotics, the idea is that we are pushing towards the future of bioprinting,” said Gray. “We don’t want to become a hardware company, we want to be a company that can partner with different academics, different companies...we’re more interested in the partnerships and the progression of what we can make in the future.”

To that end, Ourobotics has a long list of reputable academic and industry advisors, who are providing invaluable feedback and advice on everything from novel biomaterials (for example, Professor Alexander Seifalian, a professor of nanotechnology and regenerative medicine at UCL that is specializing is developing synthetic organs for transplantation), to business plans for the future of Ourobotics.

Gray and the Ourobotics team announced the release of their Renegade open source 3D bioprinter this week at a bioChanges event hosted by the Tangible Media Group at MIT Media Lab. bioChanges, co-founded by a group of passionate researchers between Imperial College London, the Royal College of Arts, and MIT, to name a few, is a monthly networking event and international collaborative community of academic researchers, industry professionals, startups, product designers, biomakers, artists, fashion designers, and anyone interested in investigating emerging ideas, projects, collaborations and opportunities within the fields of BioDesign Engineering, Synbio Innovation, Biologically inspired Robotics, Regenerative Medicine, 3D Organ Printing and more. In fact, the next bioChanges event is already scheduled for March, in London, and will focus mainly on 3D bioprinting.

Current projects from participating bioChanges members include exploring the acoustic properties of biomaterials, 3D bioprinted textiles for responsive wearables, modular 3D printed microfluidics, and even conductive skin. Similarly, Ourobotics’ is dappling in a range of 3D printing applications that extend beyond human tissue engineering to biotextiles, sensor embedded 3D bioprinted bones and cartilege (a project with Ourobotics advisor Dr Ravi Vaidyanathan, senior lecturer of Bio-Mechatronics Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London), and even 3D bioprinted concrete for architecture-based projects.

“The idea is that we want to be the kind of company that, even though we’ve got the focus on one area, the medical industry, we can still work in different fields, and the open source bioprinter will allow people access to this anywhere in the world,” said Gray.

Stephen G. Gray with Dr. Dominic Southgate

Evidently, the Ourobotics team has grand ambitions to revolutionize the 3D bioprinting industry, as well as the design, bioengineering, and robotics expertise to do so. But in order to truly accomplish this, their first mission is to break down the barriers to access, which begins with a mass open source movement. As of today, that mission has truly begun: though an Instructables page is on the works for the near future, any current or prospective biomakers can now get early access to Ourobotics’ free, downloadable and detailed instructions for converting a RepRap into the Renegade 3D Bioprinter, by clicking here.

Later this year, Ourobotics plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to develop even more novel 3D bioprinter extruder heads to advance potential applications for the open source Renegade 3D bioprinter. They are also constantly upgrading and enhancing the Revolution 3D bioprinter model--a first of its kind built-in incubator system has been developed and will commercialized in the near future.

If the Revolution 3D bioprinter was true to its name in terms of its cost and unprecedented, 10+ multi-material functionality, then the open source Renegade promises to be just as disruptive, inviting the experimental and even the unconventional biomaking community to finally gain access to 3D bioprinting technology, and unleash its full potential.


Please note that this article has been edited to clarify and account for additional information that did not appear in the original version. While the name of one of the original design creators, Richard Horne, was originally mentioned, hyperlinks to his work have been added. Oksana Anilionyte, Dr. Dominic Southgate and Dr. Andrew Comerford were added to the list of Ourobotics founders. Additionally, a more relevant photograph was included as it became available. 



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Alexander Seifalian (Professor) wrote at 4/9/2016 1:18:49 PM:

This is most flexible, affordable and interesting bioprinter for academic research work. Bioprinting next generation of tools every research dept should have. This may be used simple cells culture, sorting and tissue engineering human organs.

alex stewart wrote at 2/14/2016 12:25:15 AM:

i don't understand what this interview is about... is it a profile of this grey guy or the company...? what does this biochange thing have to do with 3d printers when the date is old... sounds this dude is just promoting himself lol

Justin George wrote at 2/10/2016 2:24:20 PM:

This is such a big shame, it really is. From what I have seen so far, the technology both Outbiotics and Biobots offer is not really 3D bioprinters as both companies have not actually bioprinted any tissue. It is a case now that these speculative companies have really just invented two types of 3D glue dispensers. The pop culture term of 3D Bioprinting has come along, and they are trying to cash in. This open source bioprinter is just a way of gaining attention. Both companies are young, and run by young people. However, these childish taunts and comments emphasize this point. You should hang your heads in shame. Now, at this stage, forget making quick money, take a look at this problem, which is ultimately what bioprinting can be used for www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/anotia-microtia.html and solve it. Use you drive and solve this problem, a bioprinter is only one part of the piece. Until then, you guys will have forgotten the true potential of bioprinting technology.

eric williams wrote at 2/8/2016 10:09:07 PM:

Who in the educational and biomaking communities can afford $13,000 for a printer they don't know how to use? This sounds like total bullshit. Also, why is there a weird selfie of this Stephen G. Gray guy?

Jemma Redmond wrote at 2/8/2016 9:54:38 PM:

Hi, I'm Jem, The person who co founded Ourobotics.. I'm not really sure what is going on here but i'm not ok with attacking other peoples work / companies or taking credit for other peoples work either. It comes across as childish. Jesse Depinto and Vishan Patel.. every single piece of technology is based on something else that has already been developed.. nothing is ever unique or ever will be. Everyone copies everyone else.

Jemma Redmond wrote at 2/8/2016 9:54:01 PM:

Hi, I'm Jem, The person who co founded Ourobotics.. I'm not really sure what is going on here but i'm not ok with attacking other peoples work / companies or taking credit for other peoples work either. It comes across as childish. Jesse Depinto and Vishan Patel.. every single piece of technology is based on something else that has already been developed.. nothing is ever unique or ever will be. Everyone copies everyone else. .

BioBuddy wrote at 2/8/2016 9:06:50 PM:

Nope. So whats hidden behind a biobot is not a basic paste extruder with a reprap that you are profiting on? Im fairly sure the ourobotics multimaterial technology is not just a copied version of a reprap paste extruder. I dont think they function with the capacity to retool themselves. Well why profit from a basic idea and not acknowledge rep raps? The ourobotic tech is not a rep rap from what i gather.

BioBuddy wrote at 2/8/2016 8:10:57 PM:

The article does not say Ourobotics designed it or that it is being sold by ourobotics. They used opensource materials for an innovative project. The article/ instrustions states where designs came from. If the designs. Its opensourcing the idea so people would know it can be used for bioprinting and chocolate. Rather than people paying over ten grand for one through other companies. Makerbot was a reprap with a different case. Biobot is a reprap with paste extruder. Both making money off an basic opensourced design. The article is to show how easy it is to make a basic bioprinter. So when taking personal digs aim for a company selling these copied designs rather than one thats showing people how easy it is for anyone to do. Or contact the people directly to find out about their plans for a kickstarter campaign on their novel extruder designs. Read the details. The Renegade is not being sold. It will be built but ourobotics if people want the custom built service. If they want to pay over ten grand thats their choice to. Instructions on how to merge two design ideas for a bioprinter are attached.

Danny Cabrera wrote at 2/8/2016 5:16:08 PM:

BioBuddy ,I assume that you are one of the founders of Ourbiotics. You really should have asked first. Just a quick email would suffice. Also shame on you for attacking BioBots, we produce a much more advanced machine than that pile of rubbish that you make.

BioBuddy wrote at 2/8/2016 10:36:07 AM:

The article acknowledges the paste extruder and thingyverse. It is to show the masses how easy it is and what it can be used for. Hence how the article states the project is 3years old and the point is to show people how easy it is. BioBots make money off of this model and acknowledge nobody or have you missed that? Ourobotics do not sell these machines, it was made for a research project. Ouronotics will gladly help memebers of the public make them or source parts from RepRap and the Prisa model. Ourobotics sell the advanced technology als shown here and we also show people how easy the basic tech is. Ourobotics are not selling this device we are releasing it to the public. We will kickstsrt our other novel extrusion heads. Another article will be released soon on opensourcing bioinks which are all available if you have the know how.

jesse depinto wrote at 2/8/2016 8:26:29 AM:

Hey, that is my design http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:206925 that these shysters are trying to say that they developed. It is originally intended to be a chocolate extruder. This is a very rude thing to do by these Irish people. Their original bioprinter also doesn't look that great as well.

Vishna Patel wrote at 2/5/2016 8:28:08 AM:

This technology has not been developed by these people, they are taking credit for other designers work. This 'Open source bioprinter' is a paste extruder and a reprap. Both are available on Thingiverse and have been around for many years. If I had taken credit for other peoples work without at least acknowledging them I would hang my head in shame.

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