If you have heard of term bioprinting than you know that scientists are already capable of creating small samples of human tissue in the lab. The big problem at this point is that before they can make human sized organs, the scientists need to find a way to keep large quantities of the cells alive so they have enough to print entire organs.
To convince living cells to grow into things like liver tissue or heart tissue, cells need to get nutrients or else they die. The tissues in our bodies have blood vessels to solve this problem, but trying to 3D print a tiny empty space is not an easy job.
A network of sugar
To tackle this problem Jordan Miller found a way to make a model of the blood vessel network in a material that ultimately dissolves away. Sugar. To creat this network, Jordan used a Makerbot 3D printer to make this sugar. There were some modifications needed to be able to keep the sugar dry and intact and to stop the sugar extrusion very precisely. Because of the open-source network of Makerbot and RepRap the team was able to tackle both problems with a heated build platform and a Frosttruder. With these modifications and a lot of trial and error, the team now introduced a great way to work with 3D printed human tissue and we’re yet one step closer to the actual realization of printing human organs!
These two video’s show how this vessel network works and how it’s printed