An advancement brought about by a team from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering is considered to be a part of the progress toward on-demand printing of complex artificial tissues that could be employed in surgeries such as transplants. With a view to allow therapeutic biomaterials to be built from multiple materials, a specially adapted 3D printer has been developed by the scientists. Findings of the study have been put out in the Advanced Materials journal. Stereolithography is a light-based process used by the technique. Leading the study, Ali Khademhosseini designed a customized 3D printer with two key components, which the technique uses to its advantage.
Process is First to Use Multiple Materials for Automated Stereolithographic Bioprinting
A digital micromirror forms one component of the 3D printer. It is an arrangement of tiny mirrors numbering over a million, where each one moves on its own. The other one is sized similar to a computer chip and is a flat, small platform, basically a microfluidic chip built in a customized manner. Moreover, it has several inlets, which allows a situation where a different material is printed by each one of them.
Various kinds of hydrogels were used by the researchers. Outline of the 3D object in the printing process is indicated by areas illuminated as light is directed onto the printing surface by the micromirrors. Molecular bonds are also triggered by the light so that they could be formed in the materials. This enables firming of the gels into solid material. In order to signify the shape of every new layer, the light pattern is changed by the mirror array as the 3D object is printed.