Jul 31, 2017 | By Tess

A joint team of researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid and ceramic 3D printing company Lithoz GmbH have developed complex 3D printed ceramic microsystems which could advance labs-on-chips and organs-on-chips. The joint team says its 3D printed ceramic device marks a breakthrough in the biomedical field.

A research paper detailing the ceramic device was recently published in The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology. The study, which was authored by Josefa Predestinación García-Ruíz from the Autonomous University of Madrid, explains how the 3D printed ceramic microsystem even has the potential to replace other bio testing methods which use petri dish samples and even animals.

“The microsystem obtained provides one of the most remarkable examples of monolithic bio-microsystems and, to our knowledge, a step forward in the field of ceramic microsystems with complex geometries for lab-on-chip and organ-on-chip applications,” reads the study’s abstract.

3D model of the biomedical microsystem for cell co-culture

The ceramic device, an octagon-shaped chip, was 3D printed using Lithoz’ CeraFab 7500 machine, a lithography-based additive manufacturing system. The material used to print the bio chip is a ceramic that has been mixed with a photopolymer, which enables it to solidify when exposed to light during the printing process.

Once the ceramic chip has been printed, it undergoes a sintering process which allows the particles of the object to fuse together into a solid piece. This step is important as it allows the chip to be used in biomedical applications that require a sealed material (to prevent any leaks of live material).

Another view of the 3D model of the biomedical microsystem for cell co-culture

As the researchers explain, their 3D printed ceramic chip shows the potential of using ceramic materials for biomedical applications, as they offer a higher strength and better temperature resistance than more commonly used materials such as glass or plastic.

The 3D printed ceramic microsystem is also made from a single “integrated element,” which means that it does not require any assembly or part maintenance. As part of its structure, the complex microsystem integrates a porous membrane which works to separate cell culture chambers at different levels, similar to the way more traditional transwell assays function.

Prototypes of the 3D printed ceramic microsystem

The structure also includes a network of channels and chambers which are connected by the cantilever ceramic membrane mentioned above. “The complex design features, level of integration, overall part size, and level of detail, characteristic of the developed microfluidic system, make this appliance one of the most remarkable examples of additive manufacturing applied to monolithic (bio-)microsystems currently available,” say the researchers in their paper.

Overall, the 3D printed ceramic monolithic microsystem could provide an effective and relatively simple alternative to more complex cell culture testing devices, which could help to advance the overall field of biomimetic 3D cell culture research.

The full study, entitled “Monolithic 3D labs- and organs-on-chips obtained by lithography-based ceramic manufacture,” can be read in full here.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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