Some undoubtedly very smart scientists have been polled, and while interesting, the results are not surprising. Bottom line? More often than not, those involved in bioprinting are using 3D printers, and they had plenty of feedback.
In a survey conducted by two companies out of the Carolinas—Izumi, headquartered in Greenville, SC, and Xanofi of Raleigh, NC—they were able to get the serious skinny on what’s going on in bioprinting, as well as what those involved in the process are hoping to see in the future as far as equipment, materials, and processes go.
Both companies have a stake in finding out what bioprinting researchers think. Xanofi is an advanced materials company involved in the manufacturing of nanofibers, while Izumi is a turnkey provider in technology ranging from tabletop robots to high-end, automated dispensing systems.
Bioprinting seems to be all the rage today, with big progressive companies partnering up and performing a lot of research—while we wait to see what impact this will really have in terms of offering up new treatments, drugs, and more. The process involves the layering of tissue with water-based layers in between. The material builds and builds, with organic tissue being the end product. It’s then available for many different uses in testing and research, and scientists are definitely looking toward the potential of using 3D printed tissue for organ transplants.
More than 100 bioprinting researchers were polled regarding their 3D printing practices, with 70 responding fully.
“I was quite pleased with the amount of responses, along with the detailed feedback we have received from the researchers,” said Miles Wright, Xanofi CEO. “This kind of feedback is needed and will help Xanofi move in the right direction.“
Level of experience was first to be considered, demonstrating that the 3D printing novices are diving right in. While a little over 39% consider themselves to be operating at expert level, roughly 26% are beginners and almost 35% are at the moderate level. This indicates a wide pool of users with a substantial group probably on their way to being experts before too long.
Areas of research for bioprinting that topped the list were cartilage (48.78%) and vascular (46.34%), with bone and organs tied for third at 39.02%. Next came cardiac (26.83%), muscle (24.39%), and skin (21.95%).
Most interesting is finding out what materials and inks researchers are using, with a whopping 80% professing a preference for dispensing materials with syringe and needle. For bioinks, the majority stated that they are using synthetic hydrogels and collagen, both hovering near 80%.
Problems indicated from those involved in bioprinting ranged from flat-out generalized annoyance to numerous complaints regarding reliability, resolution, and speed. Materials were an issue from that of hydrogel to alginate, which one researcher described as being “limiting.”
Software was brought up as an obstacle for some, with some stating a need for more standardization—not a foreign idea, for sure. Looking at what most who are involved with bioprinting use for software, it was interesting to see that most use SolidWorks (61.76%) or AutoCAD (58.82%).
While some might find the process annoying at some levels, on another it is amusing that when asked what materials they would like to use, chocolate topped the list. While not as tasty or fun, other requested items like elastin, ceramic, plastics, and photoresin were back on topic, including the wish for “materials strong enough for bone regeneration.”
Closing with a wish list for what researchers would like, a few of the interesting highlights were:
- Better cellular reaction material
- Natural materials modified to be capable of controlling stiffness, elasticity, size, and more
- Highly tunable material
- Easy-to-use syringe and arm
- Flexible ceramics
While the information is certainly helpful to many individuals and companies across the board who are interested in 3D printing as well as bioprinting, it is particularly helpful to those who prepared the survey with broad concerns in mind, as well as more narrowed down questions.
“I was quite pleased with the amount of responses, along with the detailed feedback we have received from the researchers,” said Wright. “This kind of feedback is needed and will help Xanofi move in the right direction.“
Xanofi has developed a new technique, XanoShear, for manufacturing nanofibers that can be seamlessly introduced into production environments. With the XanorShear technique, they are able to produce large volumes of “short, stable nanofibers.” Through their ability to control the nanofiber lengths, it allows them to be used in a wider range of applications, conventional or not.
Izumi, offering customized robotics and automation, has been involved in bioprinting since 2013.
“Izumi has partnered with Xanofi to create the world’s first 3Dprinted scaffold composed of discrete fibers and plans to further expand its bioscience portfolio around this unique capability,” the team recently told 3DPrint.com.
Would you like a copy of the survey? If so, contact Xanofi for more information.
Discuss your thoughts on bioprinting in the Bioprinting Researchers Using 3D Printers Surveyed forum thread over at 3DPB.com.