Feb 18, 2016 | By Alec

Surely the most anticipated 3D printing revolution can be found in the 3D bioprinting of human organ tissue, though it can still take several years before this becomes a medical reality. Fortunately, that research field has just received a boost in the form of new hardware, as 3D printer manufacturers ROKIT have just launched a new 3D bioprinter called the Edison Invivo – which has been specifically designed for engineering human tissue.

ROKIT, as you might know, is one of the foremost 3D printer manufacturers in South Korea. One of the fastest growers in the South Korean market, they have a wide range of consumer and professional machines in their catalogue already. The only thing that was missing was a 3D bioprinter, and in the summer of 2015 the company received a $3 million USD government grant to develop a 3D bioprinting solution in collaboration with renowned South Korean medicine research organizations, including the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Hanyang University and the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM).

Though that research project is expected to last about three years, the Edison Invivo 3D bioprinter is obviously the first result, and the ROKIT engineers are very proud of it. They say it overcomes a number of issues with existing 3D bioprinting solutions through a rethinking of mechanical functionality, something that is also expected to lower costs in comparison to other machines. Like the others, however, it still revolves around the 3D printing of bio ink in systematic layers.

Company officials say that the Edison Invivo 3D printer can “grow cells in three-dimensional structures that become transplantable tissues. [These] personalized transplants without side effects (such as immune rejection) are  possible because they can be transplanted into autologous cells collected from the patient's own body,” they revealed. Perfect, in short, for providing customized tissue and organ transplants.

Of course, there are several other 3D bioprinters on the market already, and their development has improved dramatically since 2010; especially tissue studies at Wake Forest University have greatly improved the technology. But according to the South Korean engineers, several disadvantages still plague existing machines. Most importantly, they still are gruelingly expensive research tools, but ROKIT says they have found a way around this. “Despite the increase in demand for 3D printing three-dimensional tissue engineering research, the prices of existing products are too high. In many cases 3D bioprinters focus on simple mechanical efficiency rather than specifications that researchers want,” they say. While not revealing their own price tag yet, they do say it will be significantly cheaper.

What’s more, the Edison Invivo will also be able to 3D print a wider range of bio inks than other machines. Featuring both an extrusion and a liquid dispensing tool, it can 3D print PLGA, PCL, PLLA, collagen, Alginate, Silk fibroin, and more. The company expects that this broad field of materials will alter the landscape of 3D bioprinting, providing researchers with a lot more options. “Based on the experience as former CEO of Celltrion Healthcare, we developed Edison Invivo by merging the Bio and 3d print technology. I hope this product contribute to pioneering new areas in Korea's bio-industry,” ROKIT’s CEO Seok Hwan You said of the machine. The Edison Invivo will hit the market in April of this year.

But that’s not all. ROKIT further revealed that they are also working on a very specific government project for 3D printable artificial skin that can be applied directly onto the patient. This is part of the greater 3D bioprinting collaboration mentioned above, and will result in another commercial 3D bioprinter that manufacturers skin grafts. That 3D bioprinter will be commercialized soon, they say. ROKIT, in short, is working hard to become an important player in the most revolutionary of all 3D printing sectors.

 

 

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