Aug 25, 2017 | By Tess

Researchers from CONICET and the National University of La Plata in Argentina are developing a 3D bioprinting system that incorporates a 4th axis. This new 3D printer, they say, will enable the additive manufacturing of more complex cylindrical, tubular, or helical mesh structures. 

The researchers in question, directed by Dr. Guillermo R. Castro, are from the Center for Research and Development in Industrial Fermentation (CINDEFI) Nanobiomaterials Lab at the National University of La Plata.

According to Sergio Katz, one of the lead researchers in this study, the team of scientists decided to create their own method for 3D printing biomaterials after facing the limitations of both plastic and 3D bioprinting processes. Katz who recently joined CONICET, acts as 3D printing specialist in the Nanobiomaterials Laboratory at the CINDEFI Research Center.

As he explains, in traditional FDM 3D printing, the object being printed requires that “each layer of material is deposited on a previous layer.” This reality inevitably makes it difficult to produce certain complex and intricate geometries for mesh structures. The researchers cite cylindrical, tubular, and helical structures specifically.

The goal was therefore to develop an additive manufacturing system that would enable biopolymers to be printed as meshed or helical structures and in cylindrical forms through the use of injectors with interchangeable nozzles.

Traditional 3D printers operate using the three Cartesian axes: X, Y, and Z. The fourth axis added to the 3D printer by the scientists behaves as a rotating print surface, as seen in the graphic above.

“This rotary axis is materialized by a cylinder, which from the geometric point of view can be developed in a plane as a rectangular surface where one side is represented by the length of the cylinder and the other side is the perimeter of the same,” explains Katz.

Using this printing method, the injector can be programmed to move axially over the X-axis, which in turn means that the 3D printing material is being deposited on a rotating cylindrical surface. The cylinder rotates in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.

In terms of materials, the researchers have been exploring the use of various biopolymer mixtures, including ones that contain alginates, pectins, chitosans, and hydrogels. The mixtures are being modified to fulfill different mechanical properties and are being tested for their printing potential and biological compatibility.

In the images above, you can see how the researchers have used a stainless steel cylinder as a rotating base for the creation of a 3D printed tubular structure. In the photo, the test print is made from biopolymers and nano-particles of silver and salts and is designed to simulate the structure of blood vessels.

Once printed, the cylinder is uncoupled from the bracket and placed in a liquid-filled tube which removes the solidified scaffolding structure.

Ultimately, the Argentinian researchers say their novel bioprinting method could help improve cell growth in biocompatible scaffolds through carefully designed meshes and structures.

The research is a continuation of an earlier project that won a contest organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Argentina (MinCyT) in 2015. This project was supported by funding from the National University of La Plata and realized in collaboration with the Laboratory of Research and Training in Advanced Informatics (LIFIA).



Posted in 3D Printer



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Joe monk wrote at 8/29/2017 9:47:42 PM:

Wow, they built a RepRap like thousands of other people...give em a big clap.

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