Bioprinting is printing three-dimensional structures that contain living cells. Under the right conditions, these printed cells can grow together to produce living organs. Much of the technology necessary to build a BioPrinter can be gleaned from 3D printer projects such as the open source Reprap project. Work will involve hacking Reprap Arduino code for plastic 3D-printers to work as a BioPrinter, writing new firmware to control peristaltic and syringe pumps and the mechanical design of bio-extruders.
We will first be attempting to print cells embedded in hydrogels or cellulose derivatives that can rapidly solidify when extruded. Later experiments may include building temporary scaffolding structures to hold the Bio-structure together until cells produce their own extracellular matrix and embedding a vascular system within the printed structure. We will start with printing plants before attempting to print animal organs. We need help with preparing the cells to be printed (cell isolation) and cell maintenance once the Bio-Structure has been printed.
It is also possible to use a RepRap as bio-laboratory robot. The firmware and mechanics can be modified to automate biological experiments, protocols and processes that involve tasks such pipetting, chemical analysis, cell culture preparation and maintenance, etc… the possibilities are endless.