Tethon 3D Releases Cost-effective Bioprinter

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Tethon 3D, known for its ceramic-loaded DLP materials, custom resins, and DLP 3D printers, has recently released a bioprinter. Vat polymerization printers like DLP systems have been widely used by researchers for creating scaffolds and cells, although these systems were not specifically branded as such. Tethon has now introduced a rebadged Carima system as the Bison Bio DLP 3D printer. This system is compatible with Tethon’s LAP photoinitiator and the Tethon GelMA hydrogel, which was developed in collaboration with Cell Bark Innovation. Used in regenerative medicine, 3D printed scaffolds and as a hydrogel, GelMA has seen a lot of attention of late.

“For over a decade, Tethon 3D has thrived on pushing the boundaries of 3D printing with advanced technical ceramic materials. We are thrilled to leverage our expertise in a new arena – bioprinting – and contribute to advancements in regenerative medicine. We are eager to explore the possibilities of bioprinting and empower researchers to unlock new frontiers in medical discovery, ultimately improving lives,” Tethon 3D CEO James Linder said.

“I participated in research that first demonstrated the cell-responsive properties of GelMA in 2010 and in the past decade my efforts have been focused on the optimization of bioprinting platforms to achieve rapid production of high-resolution and complex 3D structures. I am pleased to now collaborate with Tethon to accelerate medical research,” said Dr. Hojae Bae, an advisor to Tethon and the man behind hydrogel firm CellBark Innovation. Dr. Bae has done a lot of work with GelMA and other regenerative medicine materials.

Tethon has designed its system with bioprinting in mind, featuring numerous settings that allow users to experiment with their own materials while considering cell viability. Cell viability is a significant challenge for light-based bioprinting, making this focus particularly relevant. Impressively, the printer is priced at $20,000, which is quite affordable. Additionally, you can purchase powdered bionics starting at 2 grams, enhancing the system’s accessibility.

As demonstrated by 3D Systems and United Therapeutics, vat polymerization technologies play a crucial role in bioprinting and biofabrication. By releasing accessible packages that enable researchers to tweak settings, materials, and build strategies, this system could be a very versatile tool. Often, lab equipment is prohibitively expensive, but significant research has been conducted using low-cost 3D printers and affordable systems.

There is ongoing discussion about what precisely defines a bioprinter. As noted in our 3DPod episode with Dieter Hutmacher, the distinction between when something is considered bioprinting and when it is not remains unclear. It will take time to delineate exactly what characteristics and capabilities are necessary for a system to be recognized as a bioprinter.

Will Tethon´s move here mean that lots of other firms will be releasing vat polymerization bio printing solutions? I would bet on it. Bioprinting, while a growing yet relatively small market, places a high value on reliable, open systems that can facilitate research. This sector shows substantial potential and is likely to attract significant attention from investors and the broader public as it develops further. Establishing a niche in bioprinting could provide long-lasting benefits.

Meanwhile, the vat polymerization market itself is highly competitive. Even semi-regulated sectors, such as dental, face intense competition with firms offering complete solutions at attractive prices. Market segments like desktop systems and industrial systems, aimed at applications such as casting and jewelry, are also extremely competitive. In this context, bioprinting could provide a somewhat less crowded space, offering companies an opportunity to carve out a distinct presence. Moreover, as the field evolves, bioprinting could expand into a much larger and more significant market.

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