Everything you need to know about 3D printers and bioprinters

In very simple terms, 3D printing is one of the methods of building a structure layer by layer by computer designs. In this way, this structure can have a three-dimensional shape and nature. 3D printing is currently one of the most powerful and popular techniques available for creating various objects and tools that are not only used for printing objects. Scientists have also been able to create bioprinters to create real body tissues and organs in a laboratory.

BingMag.com Everything you need to know about 3D printers and bioprinters

In very simple terms, 3D printing is one of the methods of building a structure layer by layer by computer designs. In this way, this structure can have a three-dimensional shape and nature. 3D printing is currently one of the most powerful and popular techniques available for creating various objects and tools that are not only used for printing objects. Scientists have also been able to create bioprinters to create real body tissues and organs in a laboratory.

Before introducing and explaining bioprinters, let's take a look at the concept of 3D printers. And how these tools work in brief. Is a very extensive, complex and modern technology really needed for 3D printing?

In order to be able to print an object using a 3D printer, a material must be placed in the device to layer it. Print the layer of the desired structure to finally create a 3D shape. 3D printing with less material consumption has been able to attract the favorable opinion of engineers in the industry; Because after the discovery and invention of 3D printing, humans found the power to make complex objects as quickly as possible with the optimal use of a material.

Hideo Kodama; The main creator and ideator of 3D printing in the world

BingMag.com Everything you need to know about 3D printers and bioprinters

Based on the available documents and evidence, Hideo Kodama is considered the first inventor of 3D printing in the world. In the early 1980s in Japan, he tried to find a way to quickly make industrial samples. He finally came up with the idea to build a three-dimensional structure layer by layer and shape each layer using ultraviolet (UV) rays. Although Kodama succeeded in doing so, he was unable to patent the idea on a global scale at the time. However, the idea of 3D printing in this way later became the basis of SLA type 3D printing machines; One of the types of 3D printing machines that are widely used in the industry.

It is interesting to know that French scientists focused on building a more efficient 3D printing machine. This group of scientists was trying to design a system instead of using resin material so that liquid monomers can be introduced into the device and then a solid structure can be delivered using laser rays. Despite the efforts of French scientists to optimize the 3D printing machine, they could not have a say at the international level. However, a scientist was able to finally break this spell; A scientist whose name became immortal in the history of industry and engineering.

Charles Hall was a designer who was interested in making furniture in America. Tired of making very small structures, Hall was looking for a way to make tiny items as quickly as possible with an easier process. Therefore, Hall followed exactly the same line of thought as the French scientists; It means using a system based on building objects layer by layer and converting the layers into solid 3D models. Charles Hall was able to register the world's first stereolithography (SLA) device. For this reason, it is usually wrongly written in various texts that Charles Hall is the first inventor of 3D printing in the world; A completely false statement that for unknown reasons is still being promoted by some people.

Hall made many efforts in 1986 to use his invention in the technology industry. In 1988, he was able to launch his company and business and officially commercialize the first SLA 3D printer. However, it is interesting to know that Charles Hall was not the first and only person to invent 3D printing in the world. A little further, a person named Carl Deckard at the University of Texas was able to create and register the world's first SLS 3D printer in 1988. The difference between this type of printer and the SLA model was in its working mechanism. In this way, instead of using liquid in the tank of the device, powder should have been used. Using a laser, the printer connects the powder components together and creates a three-dimensional structure.

In the midst of the emergence of SLA and SLS printers, another person named Scott Crump managed to create a new design internationally. register The Fused Deposition Modeling printer, abbreviated as FDM, is significantly different from previous laser printers. Crump was able to make the desired polymer material come out directly from the nozzle of the device in the form of a thread and create the desired three-dimensional structure. The technology of FDM printers has been heavily used in the industry, and also in Iran, this printer model has found special fans in the engineering industry.

Since Hideo Kodama presented the idea of 3D printing. Until today, when technology and computer science have made significant progress, various designs of different devices in this field have reached the stage of implementation and even commercialization. it is arrived. However, the three printer models introduced earlier are the most important and basic devices for 3D printing in the industry.

What materials are used for 3D printing?

BingMag.com Everything you need to know about 3D printers and bioprinters

With the immense growth of material engineering science, various materials are used for 3D printing. First of all, the desired material must show thermoplastic properties; This means that the desired material should not be destroyed under the influence of high pressure and temperature. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene polymer (ABS) is one of the most important and popular examples of thermoplastic materials. Although polymers are more preferred by engineers and scientists for 3D printing, other materials such as metal powder, resins, and ceramics are also used for this purpose.

The material for 3D printing should be It is available and the price is not so high that it can be used in the production line of companies.

What is a bioprinter or a 3D bioprinter and how does it work?

So Since scientists and engineers have been able to successfully print inanimate objects and structures, scientists in the field of medical and biological sciences also thought of creating living body organs using 3D printers in a laboratory environment. Based on this, bioprinters were launched. An idea that is currently one of the most up-to-date topics for extensive research in medical science and medical engineering.

3D bioprinters work based on three general approaches. Biomimicry, automatic self-assembly as well as small tissue blocks.

Biomimicry means to be able to produce structures that are exactly similar in nature and structure to their original example in the human body. have For this purpose, the shape, framework and of course the surrounding environment of the desired tissue or organ should be measured and investigated. An important challenge in this field is the production of intracellular and extracellular structures to produce a three-dimensional biological structure. On the other hand, the production of a living tissue must be in micro dimensions. However, it should be noted that the main and natural structures of the body often have a nature in nano dimensions, and at the time of writing the article, a 3D bioprinter with the ability to print tissue samples in nano dimensions has not yet been produced. In general, in order to use this approach, one must have a complete knowledge of the environment around the biological structure, in terms of biochemical and physiological.

The second approach in bioprinters is the self-assembly process. In fact, this method goes back to the physical process of the development of organs during embryonic time, which is needed to build a tissue so that cells accumulate next to each other automatically. When the cells are accumulating, the extracellular environment around them is also created based on the signal phenomenon. Inspired by this method, scientists are interested in the self-assembly process of cells. Based on the information obtained from the desired tissue, scientists are trying to implement this idea in 3D bioprinter devices. The secret of the progress of this method is to understand more and more the mechanism of development of embryonic tissues in the body of living organisms, especially humans. If we can reach a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanism during the embryonic period, this approach will find a vast and huge transformation.

The third approach is actually a combination of the two previously mentioned methods. The construction and production of miniature and small tissues will be achieved through the production of very small components. Therefore, making small tissues is not the first step for engineers in this field.

The main types of 3D bioprinters

BingMag.com Everything you need to know about 3D printers and bioprinters

3D bioprinters have almost the same structure and performance compared to conventional 3D printer samples. However, some minor differences in bioprinters are quite noticeable. First of all, we should mention the ink of bio-printers, which is called bio-ink. Inside the bio inks, there are actually living cells that can transform into tissues under certain conditions. After the biological ink is produced in laboratory conditions, the desired content is transferred into special cartridges and then placed in its place inside the printer. In this way, a living tissue can be printed in 3D.

Generally, there are three bioprinter models in the market; Inkjet, laser-assisted and extrusion model. The ink model is usually used for fast printing and making products on a large scale and size. Ink models are usually economical in terms of cost and material usage. Laser printers can create 3D biological structures with a much stronger resolution than the ink type. However, laser bioprinters are extremely expensive. Detachable printers, like the first versions of conventional 3D printers, create a 3D structure by printing cells layer by layer. On the other hand, other materials called hydrogel can also be used in detachable printers. Hydrogels are actually molecular scaffolds on which Stem cells or even chemical drugs can be loaded.

Techniques based on separation

The process of separation or Extrusion is currently the favorite technique of scientists in the field of medical sciences; Because a melting substance can be transformed into the desired shape and image through the nozzle of the device. Of course, this process is not so simple and it is necessary to learn computer modeling software by experts; Because for the 3D printing of living organs, the architecture and structure of the desired texture must first be designed in computer systems using the required software such as Solid Works. In the next step, the desired material for making bio-ink should be provided. After this step, it can be printed.

Scientists are trying to use materials that are available in nature instead of using polymer and artificial materials. The reason for this is the lower sensitivity of the living organism's immune system; Because they usually make three-dimensional biological structures to put in the human body. For example, a cartilage or bone tissue sample is printed through 3D bioprinters so that the defect in the patient's body can be largely eliminated by placing the printed sample. Now, if the transplanted structure leads to the stimulation of the immune system, not only the healing process will not be faster, but in this scenario, efforts should be made to save the patient's body from the danger of organ destruction. For this purpose, natural polymers such as collagen, silk fibroin, gelatin, cellulose and other such materials are used to build a suitable scaffold for loading cells on it.

3D bioprinters; An end to the organ transplant problem?

BingMag.com Everything you need to know about 3D printers and bioprinters

There are many patients in the world on a daily basis due to various reasons such as accidents And other crises require organ transplantation. Since organ transplantation requires resources for surgery, the shortage of organs has become a critical issue in various societies. For this reason, scientists in the field of medical sciences are trying to find solutions to reduce the demand for organ transplants. 3D bioprinters are perhaps one of the best options on the table right now.

As mentioned earlier, 3D bioprinters can be used to make living tissues and, in the next step, to print organs. However, there are challenges at the present time that bioprinters cannot be used easily at the bedside. The first challenge is the very high cost of bioprinted products. The process of producing a 3D texture is extremely complicated and requires very expensive equipment and materials. Currently, even in advanced societies, it is not possible for the general public to pay.

If the supply and demand reaches a point where printed products can be sold at a lower price, there are still other challenges.

If supply and demand reaches a point where printed products can be sold at a lower price, there are still other challenges. For example, we can mention the durability of printed structures. Does the printed product have enough mechanical strength and will it have the power to exert its positive effect stably inside the human body? Tissue scientists and engineers are trying to use a material with the optimal concentration for the printing process through trial and error.

On the other hand, not every material can be used for bioprinting; This is because the desired substance must have several important characteristics to enter the human body. The first feature is biocompatibility; This means that the material in question should not be considered a foreign and threatening factor by the body's immune system. On the other hand, the material must be biodegradable. After entering the body, the printed structure creates products through movements such as friction and wear. These products must be removed from the body through the body's excretory system and kidneys. If the products remain in place, toxicity will develop and the body will face a critical infection. For this purpose, metal materials and powders are used less for the 3D printing of components such as prosthetics, or at least efforts are made not to cause too much toxicity in the site.

Based on the concerns and challenges that In summary, 3D bioprinters are still in their early stages and it is still too early to judge their definitive effect on the bedside. With all these interpretations, if these challenges can be overcome, the need for organs for organ transplantation will no longer be a nightmare for families. 3D bioprinters can be seen as a window to solve the organ transplant problem. Maybe one day this global problem in the field of medical sciences will be solved once and for all by using 3D bioprinters.

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