This technology is based on the classic inkjet printing process. Today, 3D FDM
printers are being modified to achieve a similar printing process. This method
makes it possible to deposit droplets of bio-ink (also known as biomaterials or
biotins) layer-by-layer onto a hydrogel support or a culture plate.
This technology can be classified into thermal and piezoelectric methods,
both based on a form of biotin.
With thermal technology, it utilizes a heating system that creates air bubbles that
collapseand provide the pressure needed to eject the “ink” drops. In contrast
the piezoelectric technology does not use heat to create
the needed pressure. Instead, it uses an electric charge that accumulates in
certain solid materials. In this case, a polycrystalline piezoelectric ceramic is
present in each nozzle. A drawback with this last technology is that it can cause
damage to the cell membrane if it is used too often.
Scientists have made great strides in regards to the patterns of molecules,cells
and organs with inkjet printing. Molecules such as DNA have been successfully
duplicated, making it easier to study cancers and potential treatments. Cells that
help combat against breast cancer have also been successfully printed using
inkjet bioprinting; Retaining their functions, with good prospects for creating
living tissue structures or organs.
For Organovo, they rely on inkjet printing in order to create functional human
tissues. Specifically, they are interested in reproducing the tissues found in the
human liver. Their focus on this is in regards to the long waiting list for a liver
transplant in the US. What Organovo hopes to do is to fix the damaged part of
the liver, which would then provide a solution that would extend the life of the
organ until the patient is eligible for a transplant. A waiting game that can
sometimes take several years.