Title : The development of an open-source low-cost 3d “micro”-bioprinter
The impact of three dimensional (3D) bioprinting within the tissue engineering field has grown significantly in recent decades. 3D bioprinting allows for automated and accurate high- throughput fabrication of functional tissues and organs using a layer-by-layer bottom-up printing approach using bioinks. The expansion of this field can be attributed to the huge advancement of commercial bioprinters, however, the high cost of these printers ($10,000 to $200,000+) make them highly inaccessible. Additionally, the proprietary software of these printers poses significant limitations to innovation within the bioprinting industry. As a result, cost-effective custom-built bioprinters have gained increased attention in the last several years. The objective of this work is to build a novel ‘micro’-bioprinter for less than $800 (USD) using an off-the-shelf 3D filament-base printer that is open-source and accessible. We designed this device using a micropipette to hold and print the bioink, reducing sample waste and allowing for working volumes less than 1ml. The bioprinter is also equipment with a bioink heating element and allows for automatic bioink refilling. Using alginate-gelatin hydrogels with and without decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM), the printing accuracy was evaluated and compared to a commercially available bioprinter, GESIM BioScaffolder 3.1. Overall, we demonstrated the feasibility of developing cost-effective bioprinters of equal caliber to commercially available bioprinters. Future work is required to quantify the success of cell-laden bioprinting using our custom-built bioprinter.