If we could visualize the future of medicine, drug testing, and artificial tissue and organ development, we would most certainly find bioprinters in the spotlight. Part of the vanguard vision of many companies and researchers alike is that the machines will become a familiar resource used in every bioengineering lab, university and even school around the globe. But building up to that momentum might take many years, even decades, yet this is becoming one of the most interesting times for the field, with a widening array of companies boosting bioprinting technology commercially, we can’t help but get excited when we hear about recent advances and newly launched machines.
Taking advantage of years of knowledge in 3D printing, Dutch manufacturer FELIXprinters announced today their latest venture, the commercial launch of a new bioprinter known as the FELIX BIOprinter. The company partnered with TRAINING4CRM and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to design a machine that works for all types of bioprinting research, equipped with strong motors that can extrude a wide range of material types and viscosities. According to the product site, the BIOprinter dispenses a wide range of viscous materials up to a viscosity of 64,000 Centipoise, with the ability to extrude materials and bioinks that range in consistency from liquids to pastes.
“The BIOprinter has been designed to be the ultimate bio research instrument in a cost-effective package, and has been developed alongside the brightest minds in the bioprinting sector,” suggested Wilgo Feliksdal, co-founder of FELIXprinters. “Uniquely, the BIOprinter combines dual sterilizable printheads which have a modular design for easy changeovers, and separate heads are available to print different bioinks at the same time. This integrates different material properties into a single scaffold structure.”
Based on the existing and established FELIX products, the BIOprinter was developed on the chassis of the FELIXprinters product line. According to the company, the new printer is characterized by key features that are specifically designed for medical, scientific and research applications, including syringe cooling, print bed cooling and heating, a dual-head system, easy syringe positioning (ergonomic access to the machine innards supports researchers in their work), and automatic bed leveling.
It is also equipped with a touchscreen that has a user-friendly interface and embedded print server that allows remote print file monitoring, use in a multi-user environment, and print-file management. A nozzle probing system enables automated bed leveling and calibration of the nozzles, plus a camera module that allows users to monitor prints remotely from their smartphone or computer complete the features of this machine. FELIX indicates that the BIOprinter also retracts with a highly precise motor for better dosage or materials and more accurate material flow versus alternative air pressure systems.
“The BIOprinter consists of an adaptable and flexible ecosystem to ensure that it can meet a wide range of researchers’ needs without generating unnecessary costs. One major advantage is the source control system which enables the user to use standard slicing software and make changes themselves if needed. Also, syringes are not restricted to expensive brand-specific or in-house produced products that essentially drive up operating costs. The machine instead has been designed to use a standard 5ml syringe, and standardized Petri dishes and culture plates, so there are no limitations on auxiliary parts and materials,” continued Feliksdal.
A big plus is that the machine uses familiar slicing software Simplify 3D, to allow fully in-control and customizable user experience. The BIOprinter is also WIFI and LAN enabled, comes with a one-year warranty, and lifetime customer support.
FELIXprinters officials claim that their new machine has been designed to be easily upgradeable, which means that its lifecycle can be extended without compromising quality, reliability, and productivity. While users can benefit from the fact that print heads are easy to sterilize, which eliminates the likelihood of contamination.
First introduced at Formnext‘s event in Frankfurt, Germany, last November, the machine is now commercially available with pre-orders already being processed. It was showcased alongside the company’s Tec 4, Pro 3 Touch, and Pro L and XL machines, which are used throughout an array of industry sectors for challenging AM production applications, and under the umbrella of their theme: “Going Dutch”, which displayed moving windmills, mini-clogs, and iconic colored tulips all created in FELIXprinter’s machines. It’s all part of the company’s Dutch heritage, of which they are extremely proud.
To develop the BIOprinter, which is handmade in the Netherlands, the company received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme, a funding program for research and innovation with nearly €80 billion of funding available over a seven-year period (from 2014 to 2020). While 13 research institutions participated in the development, including the University of Gothenburg, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Tufts University, Lund University and more.
New 3D bioprinters and bioinks bring so many opportunities to researchers with unique needs. And exploring new possibilities to work with different biomaterials and machines in the field of biofabrication helps them make new discoveries that can benefit everyone. For now, we will have to wait and see what FELIX BIOprinter users will create!
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