3Ders Monday Warm-Up: The Top 20 3D Bioprinters

We’re back again with another weekly roundup, this time looking at a subset of 3D printing technology that is already saving lives, and given recent advances, will soon be saving hundreds of thousands more. 3D bioprinting is the process of using living cells to generate three-dimensional constructs, layer by layer, which preserve the cells’ function and viability. The resulting 3D printed tissues can be used to generate skin tissue, heart tissue, vascular grafts and blood vessels, which in the near future will be suitable for surgical therapy and transplantation. Eventually, entirely 3D printed organs will be a reality as well.

Though perhaps not as accessible to the average consumer as last week’s topic, 3D food printers, there is a very real reason why we should be aware of and excited about 3D bioprinting: According to the American Transplant Foundation, more than 123,000 people in the United States alone are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant, and another name is added to that list every 12 minutes. The truth is that for thousands of those patients and others around the world, there aren’t enough donated organs to go around.

Beyond the possibility of transplantable organs, 3D bioprinting has already been successfully used to create bones, including a vertebra, mandible, and an entire thoracic cage, as well as cartilaginous structures, such as ears and tracheas, all of which have been or could be used in implant surgeries. Future applications of the technology include in-situ 3D bioprinting, which could help repair wounds right on the battlefield, while 3D printed skin could restore normalcy to burn victims, or simply be used for cosmetic makeovers.


The process for 3D bioprinting generally begins with a biopsy of the organ or tissue in question. Fr om this, certain cells can be isolated and multiplied. They are then mixed with special liquid materials, known as microgels, which provide oxygen and other nutrients to keep the cells alive. The resulting ‘bio-ink’ or biomaterial is then fed into a 3D printer cartridge just like normal ink…well, except that it’s alive. The 3D printer dispenses the cells onto a biocompatible scaffold, layer by layer, until the 3D tissue is ready.

The process is quite similar to traditional 3D printing, except that because organs require more than one type of material, as well as considerations like oxygen and nutrients to keep the tissue alive, 3D bioprinters require special modifications to accommodate the biomaterials.

Below is a catalogue, in particular order, of some of the most prominent and promising 3D bioprinters being used today. Though you may recognize some of the bigger names on this list, we’ve also included new or relatively unknown players, and some very promising projects we hope to see realized in the future.


1. Organovo NovoGen MMX 3D BioPrinter
Technology: Syringe-based extrusion
Materials: hydrogels
Software: In partnership with Autodesk to produce 3D bioprinting software
Price: NA-For internal use only

I’ll start with one of the most well known names in the industry: Organovo. This San Diego-based company was the first ever to commercialize the 3D bioprinting of human tissue. In December 2010, they 3D printed the first ever fully cellular blood vessel and earned the title of Best Invention by Time magazine, and by 2012 they were the first 3D bioprinting company go to public. In 2015, they are bringing in revenue by selling their exVive3D Liver tissue to pharmaceutical companies for drug toxicity testing, and are hoping (and likely) to be the first ever to 3D printing fully functional human tissues and organs for surgical therapy and transplantation.

The NovoGen MMX 3D printer, which is not for sale commercially, but used to create tissues that are sold to drug manufacturers, uses syringe-based extrusion technology, with two robotically-controlled precision print heads (one for the human cells, the other for the life-sustaining microgels) that can produce thick tissues of 20 or more cell layers.

Organovo’s bioprinted human tissue models (they have mastered the liver, and are working on an exVive3D kidney model) are multi-cellular, dynamic and functional, and remain viable for an extended time in vitro (up to 40 days), making them ideal for preclinical testing and drug discovery research. They can also create disease models or toxicology models fr om patient-derived or other primary human cells, enhancing how doctors study diseases and test treatments

The company has also partnered with major industry names, including Autodesk (to develop CAD software specifically for 3D bioprinting, Yale University, pharmaceutical giant Merck, and even with cosmetics company L’Oreal to develop 3D printed skin.

2. EnvisionTEC 3D Bioplotter
Technology: Syringe-based extrusion
Materials: hydrogels, silicone, hydroxipatite, titanium, chitosan
Software: PC with machine control software
Price: Roughly $200,000

Next up is another name that, if you’re interested in 3D bioprinting, you’ve likely come across before. EnvisionTec is already a leading 3D printer manufacturer with an entire range of 3D printers on the market, fr om the Micro 3D Printer family to large-frame Extreme 3SP, making them one of the only pre-established 3D printer manufacturers to enter the bioprinting field. The 3D Bioplotter, which comes in both the Developer Series and the Manufacturer Series, uses a simple extrusion process (invented and developed at the Freiburg Materials Research Centre in Germany) to fabricate scaffolds for research out of a wide range of materials, including PLLA, PLGA and silicone (which can dissolve into the body), as well as hydrogels such as collagen or alginate, or hard ceramics and metals.

The Developer Series can use up to three different material cartridges on a single job and is ideal for creating scaffolds that do not require a temperature controlled platform for construction, while the more high-end Manufacturer Series has five cartridges for using more materials in a single print, and offers a temperature controlled build platform and sensor ports, offering finely tuned environments for low tolerance scaffolding.

3. RegenHU BioFactory & 3DDiscovery 3D BioPrinter
Technology: Syringe-based extrusion
Materials: Bioink, Osteoink
Software: BioCAD
Price: $100,000-250,0000 for both

RegenHU is a Swiss-based 3D bioprinting company that offers two models of 3D bioprinters (the BioFactory and 3DDiscovery), fluid dispensers, their own proprietary BioInk and OsteoInk materials, and BioTrack and BioCAD modeling software—making them perhaps the most comprehensive commercial biomanufacturing company today. They provide “cutting-edge bioprinting solutions to combine multiple extracellular matrix materials, hydrogels, cells and bioactives” to create 3D cellular constructs that mimic complex biological functionalities found in native tissues and organs.

The BioFactory is their high-end model, allowing researchers to pattern cells, biomolecules and a range of soft and rigid materials to create realistic biomimetic tissue models, while the 3DDiscovery system is a more cost-effective alternative designed to explore the potential of 3D engineering. Their specially-developed biomaterials, dedicated for use with their machines, include BioInk, a chemically-defined, biodegradable hydrogel that supports the growth of different cell types and is suitable for long-term cultivation; and OsteoInk, a calcium phosphate paste that is close to the chemical composition of human bone and can be used to create bones, cartilage or structural scaffolds.

Recently, a modified RegenHu 3D bioprinter was used by researchers to create incredibly complex structures that previously could only have been found in nature.

4. Cyfuse Biomedical’s Regenova 3D BioPrinter
Technology: The Kenzan Method (patented and exclusive to Cyfuse Biomedical K.K.)
Materials: Cellular Aggregates (Spheroids)
Software: B3D
Price: $250,000 +

Japan-based Cyfuse Biomedical K.K has been working on a 3D bioprinter known as Regenova, for which they raised an impressive $12 million in March 2015. To create custom vascular tissue, the researchers use the “Kenzan” method, in which cellular spheroids are cultured in fine needle arrays. As each spheroid is placed in a particular order, they can autonomously connect and form macrospoic tissue structures without the use of collagen or hydrogel. The researchers add a series of needles to the needle array to change the length and/or thickness of their intended output. Depending on the arrangement of the needle array, it is able to ensure circulation of the culture medium and oxygen until it is mature enough to be used. They have also developed their own proprietary 3D bioprinting software, B3D

Already, the team has successfully been able to 3D print 2-3mm diameter blood vessels in under ten days using this unique needle array system. They can also 3D print nerves, liver tissues for drug screening and testing, and cartilage and subchondral bone.

5. 3D Bioprinting Solution’s FABION 3D BioPrinter
Technology: Photocuring, electromagnetic, and extrusion-based
Materials: hydrogel, organoids
Software: NA
Price: NA-For internal use only

Reaching out to yet another corner of the world, Skolkovo, Russia’s 3D Bioprinting Solutions has been making headlines for not only being the first company in the world to 3D print a functional thyroid gland, but to successfully implant that thyroid into a mouse.

Their FABION 3D bioprinter, developed by head of research Dr. Vladimir Mironov, is Russia’s first 3D bioprinter, and the company has been extremely outspoken about their ambitions. So far, however, they seem to be holding true to their promises. The robotic machine can move in three directions and is equipped with five nozzles capable of pumping spheroids and extruding hydrogel and biogel in successive layers. They have also developed a proprietary 3D bioprinting software.

3DBioprinting Solutions has made it no secret that they want to innovate in this field perhaps more than any other bioprinting company out there. If wanting it is half the battle, this company is definitely one to look out for.

6. Regemat3D BioPrinter
Technology: IPF, IF, FDM
Materials: Cellular hydrogels
Software: Regemat3D
Price: NA - Parnerships available

Regemat3D takes a more open approach to designing 3D bioprinters. Rather than selling a fixed model, they work directly with pharmaceutical companies and partners to design a tailored biprinting ‘system’ that works for them. Their machines are modular and customizable, and can be configured in terms of axis movement range, number of printing heads, software tuning and even extrusion speed. As the company says “We don’t sell machines, we build systems and a community.”

Regemat 3D V1 has been optimized to bioprint osteochondral tissue, with the goal of treating cartilage degeneration and degenerative joint diseases, due to the size of the orthopaedic market, which according to the company is one of the largest health market segments in the world. The machine uses Individually pore-filling (IPF) technology, as well as injection filling (IF) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) to print biodegradable scaffolds.

By working with partners with diverse needs and ideas, the company hopes to advance 3D bioprinting in order to address the the complex issues of bringin live organs and to test new ideas and hypotheses. “You think on the application, the tissue and the investigation, we develop the tool for it.”

7. Advanced Solutions BioAssemblyBot
Technology: Six-axe syringe-based extrusion
Materials: Undefined bioinks
Software: TSIM
Price: Starting at $159,999

This is one of the most exciting machines because not only is it relatively affordable, it is already widely used, and comes with its own proprietary, fully integrated 3D software, TSIM (Tissue Structure Information Modeling). TSIM is an intuitive software tool that allows doctors and scientists to visualize and design 3D models of complex tissue structures, which are then sent to the BioAssemblyBot to be created in real life. The software includes 3D modeling and analysis, Image Import and Manipulation, and Materials Inventory Management. The company lists AutoDesk as a Platinum Partner.

The BioAssemblyBot 3D printer itself is a multi-axis robot, “equipped with a multi-function and effector containing devices that facilitate automated syringe exchange, syringe tip auto-calibration, and stage leveling utilities.” Once it has received the digital images, it automatically calibrations the position of its six-axis robotic arm using laser sensors, selects the proper syringe fr om the storage rack based on the assigned material from the TSIM software, and then dispenses the exact amount of material in order to construct the biological model.

8. GeSim Bioscaffolder 2.1 & 3.1 3D BioPrinters
Technology: Pneumatic extrusion and piezoelectric nanoliter pipetting
Materials: Hydrogels, collagen, alginate bone cement paste, biocompatible silicones and melting polymers (CPL, PLA)
Software: BS3.1
Price: $100,000 - $ 250,000 for the 2.1 model

Like the Regemat3D, Germany’s BioScaffolder 3.1 is a modular 3D bioprinting platform for complex material handling at the microscale. It has up to four independent z-axes for tool operation. The standard unit uses pneumatic extruders for high-viscous/pasty materials, while optional features include a pipetting unit for low-viscous materials, piezoelectric dispense vales, and syringe extruders (the latter are currently in development).

As the name implies, the BioScaffolder is intended for the production of multi-material bioscaffolds with defined inner structures, and the printing of live cells, either embedded in the scaffold material or seeded by piezoelectric microdispensers.

Technology: Extrusion based bioprinting
Materials: CELLINK hydrogel
Software: Repetier Host
Price: $4,999-$9,000

Yes, you read that correctly. At just $5,000, the INKREDIBLE 3D Bioprinter is easily the most cost-effective and accessible bioprinter available in its class. That’s because the Swedish company behind it, CELLINK, led by Erik Gatenholm and Ivan Tournier, want to make the technology as accessible as possible to innovators, researchers and early adopters to speed up the process of innovation and get functional organs into the hands of those in need as fast as possible. The standard model ($4,999) comes with dual printer heads, a 10µm bioprinting accuracy, a quality steel frame for stability, however the INKREDBLE+ ($9,000) boasts all of that on top of being the first desktop 3D bioprinter with clean chamber technology, which ensures that the printing chamber is the most sterile environment possible.

The developers of the INKREDIBLE got their start in bioprinting when they created CELLINK, the world’s first universal bioink, which has found truly great success in the 3D bioprinting industry.

The first INKREDIBLE orders have already been placed, and shipment begins this month (November 2015).

10. 3Dynamic Systems Alpha & Omega 3D BioPrinters
Technology: syringe based extrusion
Materials: hydrogel-based materials, poly-capro-lactone, calcium phosphate, PLA, PGA, elastin and others
Software: Cura
Price: $19,000 (Alpha) $28,000 (Omega)

Not to be confused with the other 3DS, 3Dynamic Systems is headquarted at Swansea University in Wales. They have developed two separate 3D bioprinters with distinct purposes, yet the same goal: to fabricate 3D transplantable bone and complex tissue constructs on demand.

The Alpha Series is a single extrusion bone tissue fabrication platform capable of depositing bone tissue materials; wh ere as the Omega Tissue Engineering Workstation is a dual extrusion bioprinter used to generate heterogenous eissue using a printable bioactive gel, protein growth factors and scaffolds which mature into living tissue structures.

11. Bio3D’s SYN^ & Explorer 3D BioPrinters
Technology: Syringe-based extrusion
Materials: Polymers, hydrogels
Software: NA
Price: $50,000-100,000 (SYN^) ; $10,000-50,000 (Explorer)

Singapore’s Bio3D is another company who wants to make 3D bioprinting as accessible as possible—the more minds involved, the more chance for a breakthrough, right? Thus, they’ve designed and manufactured two 3D bioprinters ‘from the ground up’ specifically for research and scientific applications.

The first is SYN^, an advanced research 3D printer that can print whole cells, bacteria, proteins, bio-gels, polymers, food materials and more. It has a modular design, interchangeable print heads, 10 micron resolution, and a host of other features designed for professional R&D applications.

The second is the Bio3D Explorer, an affordable, entry-level bioprinter for beginners and educators, that represents a one-of-a-kind way to explore bioprinting without the high cost. The Explorer has 90 micron resolution, is lightweight and foldable, and customizable, so it can grow with you.

12. BioBot BioBot1 3D BioPrinter
Technology: syringe-based extrusion
Materials: collagen, gelatin, PEG, alginate, others
Software: NA
Price: $10,000

The BioBot team, comprised of University of Pennsylvania graduates Ricardo Solorano, 25, and Daniel Cabrera, 22, designed their desktop 3D bioprinter to be the most accessible in the world, and so far it has been met with overwhelmingly positive response. As the first ever desktop 3D bioprinter, the BioBot1 3D bio-printer it has a measurement of only 12 cubic inches, supports standard lab dishes (circular petri and 96-well plates), offers 10 micron resolution, and uses visible blue light technology to cure biomaterials without damaging cells, and a dual, pressure-driven extruder system to achieve clean starts and stops during printing.

So far, the BioBot beta version has only been made available to leading research universities, including MIT, Penn, Stanford, and others, at the very low price of $5,000 and has been met with overwhelmingly positive acclaim. However, the new and improved the BioBot1 is slated to hit the commercial market at double that price. Pre-orders are already available.

13. Regenovo 3D Bio-Printer
Technology: Syringe-based extrusion
Materials: medical polymers, live cells, inorganic and hydrogel materials
Software: NA
Price: NA

If all these names are starting to sound alike, it’s not just in your head. Nevertheless, each of these companies is working hard to innovate and open new doors in life-saving diagnostics, prevention and treatment techniques. Chinese researcher Xu Ming-En and his team at the Hangzhou University of Electronic Science and Technology developed China’s first 3D bioprinter, the Regenovo, back in 2013. When we covered them then, they had already printed the model of a human ear, nose, and face using medical polymer, inorganic materials, hydrogel and living cells.

Today, the Regenovo Bio-Printer comes in three models: Lite, Pro and WS, and is capable of designing complex 3D scaffolds and living tissue models for medical research and drug testing, including liver models, tumor models, metabolic syndrome models, and tissue engineering for bones, livers, and blood vessels.

14. Aspect Biosystems 3D Lab-on-a-printer
Technology: Proprietary Lab-on-a-printer™ technology
Materials: Cellular hydrogels
Software: NA
Price: NA-Partnerships available

So far we’ve seen offerings from Singapore, Russia, Spain, China, Japan and the US, but Aspect Biosystems is the first Canadian company to make the list, and surely the country’s leading provider of 3D bioprinting technology. According to Aspect, which is based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, their Lab-On-A-Printer is an ‘entirely new way’ of 3D bioprinting, engineered specifically with the capacity to fabricate physiologically complex living tissue on demand, with unprecedented control over biomaterial composition. They also claim that by giving the user the power to program the structure, material composition, and printing process in software, they enable the production of a massive variety of potential living structures. They also offer contract 3D human airway tissue testing services through their 3DAirwayALI human tissue model.

Although they don’t specify exactly how the technology works, and only offer partnerships through their website rather than selling the machine directly to researchers, they have received a lot of recognition within their country. This year, they were named the regional winner of the 2015 Startup Canada Award for Innovation, and they won a pitch competition at Canada’s BIO 2015. Clearly they’re onto something, and could soon receive international recognition for their proprietary technology.

15. PrintAlive 3D BioPrinter

Technology: microfluidic cartridge-based technology (proprietary)
Materials: biopolymer, human keratinocytes, and fibroblasts
Software: NA
Price: NA

This very promising 3D bioprinter first revealed itself to the whole word at the Canadian leg of the 2014 James Dyson Award, wh ere it won first place for its innovative approach to 3D skin printing for severe burn victims. Developed by two University of Toronto engineering studings, Arianna McAllister and Lian Leng, the PrintAlive 3D Bioprinter uses their proprietary microfluidic cartridge-based technology to produce artificial skin grafts that avoid all the nasty consequences of skin transplants.

Most significantly, this method can produce transplantable skin cells great quantities in a relatively short period of time, whereas other methods of growing cells often take weeks to cultivate. This is a severely debilitating problem that needs to be overcome, as help simply comes too late for many victims. As the creators noted: “in severe burn injuries wh ere both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin are destroyed, prompt wound closure is critical for favourable patient outcomes and reduced mortality rates.” With this 3D printer, artificial skin could be created with unprecedented speed and resolution.

So far, the PrintAlive 3D Bioprinter has moved to its ‘preclinical trials’ phase of the medical adoption process, and has already been adopted for trials by University of Toronto scientists and burn victim specialists from Canada’s largest burn-victim treatment center, the Ross Tilly Burn Centre in Toronto. The next step in order to bring this invention to the medical community at large will be to focus on growing cells at a high enough rate. Given the rate of progress so far, that could be as soon as within the next one to two years.

16. Nano3D Biosciences (n3D) Bioassembler
Technology: Magnetic Levitation
Materials: Cell Cultures
Software: NA
Price: $500 for single or six-well kits; $750 for 24-well kit

Unlike any of the other 3D bioprinters on this list, which more or less use extrusion technology just like standard hobby-level printers, the Bioassembler uses something called “magnetic levitation” to recreate native tissue environments in vitro. Last year, their technology was used to replicate the cell heterogeneity of a breast cancer tumor, leading to a major breakthrough in breast cancer research, as scientists were able to replicate models better than ever before.

As explained by the company, in magnetic levitation, cells are magnetized with NanoShuttle PL through overnight incubation and dispense into a cell-repellent multiwall plate, wh ere they are levitated off the bottom by a magnet. The magnetic forces work as an invisible scaffold that rapidly aggregates cells and includes cell-cell interactions and ECM synthesis. The 3D culture is formed without any artificial substrate or specialized media or equipment. In addition to magnetic levitation, the N3D Biosciences also offers spheroid bioprinting.

17. BioCurious DIY 3D BioPrinter
Technology: Inket or syringe-based extrusion
Materials: Biopolymers, sodium alginate, E.coli cells, plant cells, others
Software: Any 3D modeling software
Price: DIY—total cost for materials around $150 + 3D printer such as RepRap, PrintrBot Simple or others

Other than CELLINK’s INKREDIBLE, BioCurious DIY 3D BioPrinter is the cheapest you’ll find—though it does come at the cost of some bioprinting capabilities. Designed by BioCurious, a hackerspace and technical library in Sunnyvale, California, the DIY Bioprinter can successfully print E.coli cells and plant cells, as well as 3D alginate structures if you make it with syringe pumps rather than just inkjet print heads. BioCurious’ mission is to make innovations in biology as accessible, affordable, and open to everyone, and by going so far as to create an Instructable for their creation, they’re doing a great job of fulfilling it.

18. Qingdao Unique Technology Anyprint B01CS 3D BioPrinter
Technology: Syringe-based extrusion
Materials: Living cells, high-polymer materials, natural bio-materials
Software: Anyprint
Price: $24,500

Since 2012, Unique Technology in Qingdao, Shandong province, has released two 3D bioprinters, the Re-Human and Anyprint BO1CS, and just this year they announced that, using the latter, they will be able to 3D print complex structures such as cornea and human skin much faster than anticipated—potentially within just one more year of research.

The Anyprint BO1CS uses living cells, high polymer materials and natural bio-materials as printing materials. By using 4 nozzles and multi-materials printing technology, the Anyprint B01CS is capable of printing living cells and supporting materials simutaneously. The biomaterials are developed by Unique Technology itself, keeping the totally cost very low.

The company is already reportedly working on their third generation 3D bioprinter, which should be capable of overcoming traditional problems associated with artificial skins. As the company explained “"Existing artificial skin is a lamellar structure, which isn’t resistant to rubbing and easily breaks when used. Through the clinical instructions given by medical experts, we use biological materials instead to print jagged bite structures and intricate 3D networks between the different layers of skin. These structures behave and function just like actual skin and once they are ready for clinical trials should greatly benefit serious burn victims."

19. RevoTek 3D Bioprinter
We don’t know much about the RevoTek 3DBioprinter yet, as it was just revealed last month, however we do know that it was developed by RevoTek, a company in southwestern China, and that it is said to be the first commercial 3D bioprinter capable of printing blood vessel systems, complete with the unique hollow structures of real vessels and even multiple layers of different cells. RevoTek’s 3D bioprinting system includes a four-core technological system: a medical imaging clodu platform, biological inks, a 3D bioprinter and a post-print processing system.

At the heart of the technology are the Biosynsphere biological bricks (BioBricks), a stem cell culture system that aims to develop personalized cells for organ regeneration. It consists of seed cells (stem cells, differentiated cells and more) and bio-inks filled with growth factors and nutrients.

20. Rokit 3D Bioprinter

Rokit is the South Korean 3D printer manufacturer already well-known in Asia and abroad for their rapidly growing line of desktop 3D printers, including the H700, Pro, Multi, AEP, S and Chocosketch printer models. However this year, they boldly announced their entry to the bioprinting market with a $3 million grant from the South Korean government. The company will be collaborating with the Korean Institute of Science and Technology, Seoul National University Bangang Hospital, Hanyang University, and Korea Institue of Machinery and Materials to develop the nation’s 3D bioprinting space, with the goal of developing an in-situ 3D bioprinter by 2018 that will be capable of 3D printing skins for burn victims and patients with dermatological diseases.

21. Ourobotics Revolution 3D Bioprinter - Updated - Dec 29, 2015

Technology: Syringe-based extrusion with ‘re-tooling’ robotic arm
Materials: Collagen, gelatin, alginates, chitosan, etc
Software: NA
Price: $13,500 (€12,500)

Though this 3D bioprinter did not come out until after our original list was published, it includes enough unique features to earn itself a spot. The Ourobotics Revolution 3D Bioprinter, created by Jemma Redmond and Stephen Gray, deserves it’s “revolution” title for two reasons: not only can it 3D print with up to 10 materials in a single bioprinted structure (with the potential to add even more), but thanks to some creative hardware and software hacking, it is available for less than 10 times the cost of some other 3D bioprinters mentioned on this list.
The Revolution features a hand-like retooling system. This means that it is modular, and can work with a wide variety of bioinks, regular and specialized materials. Current applications include human tissue engineering, pharmaceuticals, food, synthetic biology, electronics, batteries and even textiles. Of course, the fact that it can print with 10 materials or more at a time (plus its heated enclosure for keeping cells alive) makes it especially useful for complex 3D bioprinting purposes.
Redmond and Gray started working on this affordable, modular bioprinter with the goal of making 3D bioprinting more accessible and reliable to a wider number of researchers, educators, and scientists. The Ourobotics 3D bioprinter will launch in the near future, and they eventually hope to create an open source, basic model of the machine that will cost less than $250 to create so that every student and biomaker in the world can have the chance to work with the technology. You can read our detailed article about the Ourobotics Rebolution 3D bioprinter here.


1. TeVido Biodevices


Technology: Modified HP deskjet printer
Materials: medical polymers, live cells, inorganic and hydrogel materials
Software: NA
Price: NA

While many of the above-mentioned companies are focused on created 3D printed tissue, blood vessels, and organs, privately-owned biotech company TeVido BioDevices has a different goal in mind: to “reconstruct hope.” Their technology aims to 3D print custom skin grafts out of a woman’s own tissue for breast cancer reconstruction. Their first product, Cellatier, is specifically targeted to improve nipple reconstruction and later fill lumpectomies and other fat grafting needs.

“For the majority of women who undergo breast reconstruction, the final step in the process involves the nipple areola complex (NAC). Studies highlight that patients with loss of the nipple and areola continue to experience psychological distress even long after breast mound reconstruction has taken place,” said the company. “TeVido is developing propriety, patent-pending, bioprinting technology, CellatierTM, and when combined with a woman’s own living cells will build a custom NAC graft made just for her.” The nipple can be any size, shape, or color, and because it’s created from the patient’s own cells, the risk of rejection is greatly reduced.

The Texas-based company received $900,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation and National Cancer Institute, and subsequently raised another $30,000 in Indiegogo. As breast cancer affects tens of thousands of women each year, there is clearly a huge need and demand for this kind of technology. In the future, TeVido hopes the technology should also be capable of helping those who suffer from severe burns, chronic non-healing wounds, and cosmetic purposes.

2. MedPrin 3D printed Biological Meningioma
Although this isn’t exactly a 3D bioprinter, it’s an amazing example of a 3D bioprinting application that is already being used on real life patients. Chinese company Maipu Regenerative Medical Technology (MedPrin), revealed earlier this year that they had developed the world’s first 3D printed biological meningioma called ReDura, a replica of tissue covering the brain, that that they are already applying it in surgical rooms around the world. ReDura is a 0.2mm thick tissue that acts as a protective layer between the skull and the brain for patients who have undergone brain surgery. Although other materials have traditionally been used for this purpose, they are not biological, and can disrupt the patient’s life post-surgery. The ReDura tissue is developed by taking meninges tissue out of patients themselves to analyze the fiber structure. Doctors then use MedPrin’s 3D printing technology to create artificial meninges structures. Upon implantation, the brain’s blood vessels craw into the structures until a new Meningioma grows, at which point the 3D printed ReDura material simply dissolves into the body.

It's quite an extensive list, and yet it doesn't even begin to cover some of the more advanced, university and/or government funded initiatives developed for internal research--these include Wake Forest's 'Beating Heart Cell', the U.S Army's investigation into 3D bioprinting for skin and organ repair, 3D bioprinted teeth that can destroy mouth bacteria, and one of my personal favorites, the Biolinker, the world's first bioflim 3D printer made entirely from K'Nex, which was developed by TU Delft students and went on to win first place at the iGem 2015 Synthetic Biology competition. Beyond recreating human biology, there are 3D biopinrinting projects that seek to replicate plant or animal matter, such as 3D printed bio-concrete by NNRGY Crops, bacteria-powered biofabric by MIT's Media Lab, and the successful 3D bioprinting of cow stem cells for lab-grown beef burgers (see also Modern Meadow's 3D printed 'steak chips'), which could be hitting shelves sooner than you'd think.

Agi Haines - Circumventive Organs

Finally, there are speculative artists such as Agi Haines, who asks, if 3D printed organs are already soon to be a reality, why not go beyond what nature has given us, speeding-up the process of evolution by 3D printing hybrid organs with Frankenstein-esque abilities, inspired by nature, but made possible only through science? 3D bioprinting is no longer an idea or a concept, but a very real phenomena that is already changing how the medical industry approaches the human body and saves human lives. The only question is how fast profess will happen, and what ethical questions will come up as we aspire to 3D print life itself.