We’ve shared about research involving 3D printers and vascular networks before, including pioneering work from Dr. Jordan Miller from the Adafruit community. Each new announcement demonstrates the remarkable pace at which the research community continues to push forward, leveraging approaches made possible by bio-printing and other additive manufacturing techniques.
Scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT have bio-printed artificial vascular networks mimicking the body’s circulatory system that are necessary for growing large complex tissues.
Using a high-tech ‘bio-printer’, the researchers fabricated a multitude of interconnected tiny fibres to serve as the mold for the artificial blood vessels. They then covered the 3D printed structure with a cell-rich protein-based material, which was solidified by applying light to it. Lastly they removed the bio-printed fibres to leave behind a network of tiny channels coated with human endothelial cells, which self organised to form stable blood capillaries in less than a week.
The study reveals that the bioprinted vascular networks promoted significantly better cell survival, differentiation and proliferation compared to cells that received no nutrient supply.
“At the moment, we are pretty much printing ‘prototypes’ that, as we improve, will eventually be used to change the way we treat patients worldwide.” says study lead author and University of Sydney researcher, Dr Luiz Bertassoni….
“While recreating little parts of tissues in the lab is something that we have already been able to do, the possibility of printing three-dimensional tissues with functional blood capillaries in the blink of an eye is a game changer,” he says.
“Of course, simplified regenerative materials have long been available, but true regeneration of complex and functional organs is what doctors really want and patients really need, and this is the objective of our work.”
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!