The Biomanufacturing Laboratory at the University of Iowa College of Engineering’s Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD) is developing a 3D printing process that uses ‘Bio-Ink’ for organ and tissue fabrication. Researchers hope to create working human organs within 5 or 10 years.
This research is the initial results of a new interdisciplinary manufacturing venture at the university called the Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMTecH) group. The group was formed to design, create and test a wide variety of electromechanical and biomedical components. Along with projects related to creating replacement parts for human organs they are also currently working on electronic circuit boards for the aerospace industry.
One of their most promising projects is bioprinting a glucose-sensitive pancreatic organ that can be grown in a lab, and later transplanted anywhere in the patients body. With the increasing prevalence of diabetes across the western world this research could provide a solution to a serious condition which affects millions of people.
AMTecH’s research has grabbed the lead in the bioprinting field by creating a multi-arm 3D printer, whereas other institutions use a single arm printer with multiple heads as they are simpler to design and control. The benefits of a multi-arm design is that a single arm designs are only able to print multiple materials one after the other. However the multi-arm printer, designed by Howard Chen a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, can print several materials at the same time. This saves time as it is able to use one arm to create blood vessels while the other is 3D printing the tissue-specific cells that lie in-between.
The biomanufacturing project is led by Ibrahim Ozbolat, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and their work on this project can be seen in the following video.