Mar 29, 2018 | By Benedict

Researchers from Adam Feinberg’s lab at Carnegie Mellon University have developed an open-source 3D bioprinter that can be built affordably using a modified desktop 3D printer. The large-volume extruder (LVE) component of the bioprinter can be 3D printed.

This open-source bioprinting system can be built for under $500

(Image: Adam Feinberg / HardwareX)

3D bioprinting is a key technology in the field of regenerative medicine, and has opened new avenues for biomedical researchers seeking new means of treatment for patients. The trouble is, very few researchers can actually get their hands on a bioprinter, with most models having a five or six-figure price tag—often at the higher end of that range.

While these complex bioprinting systems are expensive for a reason, researchers should be grateful for any opportunity they receive to get a less expensive bioprinter, and new research at Carnegie Mellon university could provide that very opportunity.

Researchers from the laboratory of Associate Professor Adam Feinberg have conducted a study into their development of an open-source, low-cost bioprinter that can be partially 3D printed, and which actually consists of a standard desktop 3D printer combined with other parts.

“What we’ve created,” explains Kira Pusch, a Materials Science & Engineering graduate, “is a large-volume syringe pump extruder that works with almost any open-source fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer. This means that it’s an inexpensive and relatively easy adaptation for people who use 3D printers.”

The 3D bioprinter is therefore completely unlike most commercial bioprinting systems, which are typically expensive, closed-source, and near-impossible to modify. This open-source bioprinter, the researchers say, is both affordable and hackable.

Bioprinting research could someday lead to transplantable 3D printed human organs

“Essentially, we’ve developed a bioprinter that you can build for under $500, that I would argue is at least on par with many that cost far more,” says Feinberg. “Most 3D bioprinters start between $10K and $20K. This is significantly cheaper, and we provide very detailed instructional videos.”

But while this is undoubtedly a cut-price bioprinting solution, the Carnegie Mellon scientists insist that the system works very well. The 3D printable low-volume extruder lets users print artificial human tissue on a large scale and at high resolution—bypassing the usually “trade-off” that demands either big or detailed printing.

“The LVE 3D bioprinter allows us to print much larger tissue scaffolds, at the scale of an entire human heart, with high quality,” Feinberg claims.

Feinberg’s team has already put the DIY 3D bioprinter together using one super low-cost desktop 3D printer, the Printrbot Simple. In their research, they used this DIY setup with an alginate 3D bioprinting material and the Feinberg lab’s own Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) technique.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers used a PrintrBot Simple for their study, though other desktop 3D printers could be used

And while we’ve seen other DIY bioprinting projects in the past, the straightforward nature of this particular system is sure to appeal to a large number of researchers looking to get stuck into bioprinting. Feinberg, for his part, couldn’t be happier: “It’s really about democratizing technology and trying to get it into more people’s hands,” he says.

The hope now is to see the research built upon by other organizations, so that bioprinting becomes a practice carried out by more than just the wealthiest laboratories.

“We envision this as being the first of many technologies that we push into the open source environment to drive the field forward,” says Feinberg. “It’s something we really believe in.”

Feinberg and Pusch were joined on the research by Biomedical Engineering postdoctoral fellow TJ Hinton. Their research has been published in the journal HardwareX.



Posted in 3D Printer



Maybe you also like:


Orest wrote at 4/11/2018 4:23:26 PM:

It is cool, yes, but not very new. Syringe pump toolheads are around for several years now...

Prof Xia Lu wrote at 3/30/2018 3:42:13 PM:

I think it is really cool, we were going to buy an expensive BioX from Cellink but will now try this systems instead.

Alan wrote at 3/29/2018 11:23:03 PM:

Sure it's cheaper than a commercial system but I very much doubt that it can match the resolution or functionality of those systems. It's like comparing the printrbot to a Stratasys machine. As a veteran bioprinter builder for several years, biologists want a machine that's far easier to use and much more accurate and reliable than this machine could ever hope to be; they rarely have the knowledge, or the desire, to tinker.

Vijay Harik wrote at 3/29/2018 4:38:03 PM:

Please post the link to the instructional video or the link to the design page.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive