New Method of 3D Printing Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering Developed

New Method of 3D Printing Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering Developed

A new method for 3D printing biomaterials for tissue engineering has been developed by researchers at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Current techniques for shaping biomaterials are limited to soft lithography and photo lithography, both of which only be used on two dimensional materials.

The new technique on the other hand can be used to create highly complex, high resolution 3D micro and macroscale patterns. The researchers were able to create these patterns deep within silk-protein hydrogels.

The new technique was inspired by a method of 3D printing that uses multiphoton absorption (MPA) of light. Low-energy femtosecond laser pulses were used to micromachine patterns in transparent hydrogel at a depth of up to 1 centimeter, which the researchers point out is ten times deeper than with other biomaterials. The increase in depth has been attributed to the clarity of hydrogel. The researchers claim they were able to produce high resolution structures within the hydrogel with a lateral resolution of 5 µm.

The technique has been used to create tunnels in the hydrogel comprising an “artificial vasculature.” The new technique for 3D printing biomaterials for tissue engineering could allow cells access to air and nutrients. While it was possible to create structures 100mm deep, the scale can easily be adjusted. The researchers say they were able to machine pores from 10 µm to 400 µm deep in the hydrogel.

The researchers point out that their technique does not use the toxic compounds that are required by other 3D printing methods and that their system is able to shape biomaterials in a closed, sterile environment. The new 3D printing method could be used to shape a wide range of biomaterials that could be used for tissue engineering and biomedical implants.

The report – Laser-based three-dimensional multiscale micropatterning of biocompatible hydrogels for customized tissue engineering scaffolds – has recently been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).