EnvisionTEC is often mentioned in the same sentence as jewelry and dental 3D printing, and that’s fair, as the company does supply a good selection of 3D printers and materials for those applications. EnvisionTEC is a lot more than that, though – in fact, it has at least one 3D printer specifically designed for almost every application you can think of, and that includes bioprinting. The 3D-Bioplotter series may not be as visible as some of EnvisionTEC’s other 3D printers, but these quiet, unassuming printers are, in fact, some of the busiest 3D printers out there.

The 3D-Bioplotter family of printers consists of three models: the Starter series, the Developer series and the Manufacturer series, each with increasing capabilities. The original 3D-Bioplotter is now in its fourth generation, and more than 15 years of hardware and software development have gone into it. The modular 3D printer is easy to use, while being capable of advanced research at the same time. The Bioplotter series prints with open-source biomaterials, using air or mechanical pressure to extrude them through a variety of syringes.

This year is a milestone year for EnvisionTEC, which hit its 15th birthday in 2017, and the 3D-Bioplotter has hit its own milestone as well – it’s now been featured in more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers published in scientific, technical and medical journals. We’ve looked at several of those papers ourselves, from a recent effort to 3D print brain tissue to the development of cellulose 3D printing ink, and a lot more – and we’ll be highlighting some more of those studies in the near future as well.

3D printed neurones created with a 3D-Bioplotter [Image: Gu et al/Advanced Healthcare]

Last year, EnvisionTEC created a database to track the research being done with the 3D-Bioplotter series. You can access the database, which currently contains 205 papers, here.

“The diversity and depth of these papers demonstrate the advanced research our customers can perform with our premium technology,” said Carlos Carvalho, who has worked on the development of the 3D-Bioplotter since its beginnings and led the development of the printer’s fourth generation.

According to EnvisionTEC, the topics covered by the papers in the database include:

  • Regeneration of bone, cartilage, soft tissue, nerves, tendons and teeth
  • 3D organ printing, including a 3D printed ovary implanted in a mouse
  • Direct cell printing
  • Trachea reconstruction
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Drug release for gene therapy or treatment of conditions like epilepsy and tuberculosis
  • Particle-based inks made from polymers, ceramics and metals

One of the most recent papers discusses the repair of tympanic membrane perforations with custom bioprinted ear grafts, while another looks at imaging of cardiac patches made from 3D printed alginate hydrogels to treat heart attacks or myocardial infarctions.

This mouse gave birth to live babies after being implanted with ovaries 3D printed on the 3D-Bioplotter.

The work done with the 3D-Bioplotter goes beyond medicine, too, including research into food 3D printing and the development of building materials for the moon and Mars. But what is perhaps most exciting is the fact that while most of the work done with the 3D-Bioplotter has been conducted in-vitro, aka outside of a living organism, more studies are cropping up that involve in-vivo work, done inside of an animal. According to EnvisionTEC, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing work published involving live human subjects. I can’t think of any better reason to keep an eye on EnvisionTEC’s 3D-Bioplotter database. A lot of groundbreaking discoveries have been made over the course of the last 200 studies done with the 3D-Bioplotter – I can only imagine what the next 200 will bring. Discuss in the 3D-Bioplotter forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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