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DIY_BioPrinter

comingtobayareamakerfaire_2013Interesting Instructable from Dr. Patrik D’haeseleer, Harvard-trained computational biologist and denizen of Sunnyvale biotech hackerspace BioCurious.

Bioprinting, which is basically 3D printing with living cells, has been much in the news lately, with breathless tales of fully 3D-printed living organs and replacement body parts. There is of course a fair bit of hype going on here, but also, at the core, a body of very interesting applied research.

Turns out some of the earliest work in bioprinting was based on hacked inkjet printer cartridges, and many research groups around the world are still working with modified off-the-shelf printer parts. Patrik’s Instructable should be very useful for anyone thinking about or working on developing their own equipment.

I<3Biocurious

An important caveat is that the build does not include a Z-axis, so it’s only capable of printing in two dimensions, as for instance, in the above photo, where a culture of E.coli bacteria expressing the gene for green fluorescent protein has been printed on the surface of an agar-filled Petri dish. Still, it’s pretty fascinating reading, and could be readily adapted to printing other liquids—biological or otherwise—onto other surfaces.

DIY BioPrinter | Instructables

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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  1. Thanks, Sean! Feel free to drop by BioCurious to participate in the BioPrinter project, every Thursday 7:30-10pm. No membership required – just walk in the door!

    We’ve been working on syringe pumps lately, and are planning to switch the electronics to a RAMPS shield, which is the 3D printing community’s favorite solution. We’ve also been playing around with the spherification reaction, which should allow us to print solid 3D structures – possibly with cells embedded – starting with nothing but fluids.