Inkjet printing technology and bio-ink development for the biofabrication of in vitro 3D tissues

Conference Dates

June 5-9, 2017


Bioprinting is an attractive technology for the construction of three-dimensional (3D) tissues to be used in regenerative medicine or in vitro screening applications. Particularly, piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet heads are expected to allow the arrangement of living cells with high precision. However, implementing a biofabrication process based on inkjet printing requires the consideration of several specific issues: first, nozzle clogging and loss of cell viability due to the sedimentation of cells inside the printing head; second, the need for selecting suitable bio-ink materials that would be compatible with droplet ejection at low viscosity and rapid tissue assembly. To address the first issue, we have developed a novel inkjet head specially designed for ejecting live cell suspensions. Droplets are formed by membrane vibrations generated by a pulse-driven piezoelectric actuator. Soft vibrations during the non-ejecting period also prevent cell sedimentation inside the chamber. Good stability of ejection has been thus achieved with over 90% viability when using human fibroblasts or endothelial cells. Next we have demonstrated the feasibility of constructing stratified mille-feuille like structures, composed of 2-10 cell layers with a total thickness of 50-300 um, by alternating cell suspension and hydrogel deposition. We are also investigating new bio-ink materials to improve tissue functionality without compromising reliability of ejection. For example, incorporation of submicron-sized gelatin beads into alginate gels has been shown to improve cell adhesion to printed substrates.

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