Bioprinting Techniques


The development of cells, biomaterials and supporting components enables researchers to offer new ways for patient-led treatments that can better help human organ and tissue growth in regenerative medicine, making many cancer treatments and skin grafting procedures less invasive. While this area is still evolving, many advances and scientific studies have aimed to provide functional replacement tissues and organs without requiring animal products or testing.

Several bioprinting techniques enable the printing and development of cells to bring the ability to 3D print organs and biological tissues through the layering of living cells. Still, some are more capable and advanced than others.

3D (three-dimensional) bioprinting brings the ability to combine developmental biology and 3D printing with stem cells to benefit the study of disease pathogens significantly and combine biomolecules, cell types and biomaterials into a printed composite 3D architecture.

We take a look at the five most common kinds of bioprinting that are used

  • Inkjet-based – a non-contact print method that uses dilute solutions droplets within microvalve, thermal or piezoelectric printing techniques.
  • Fused-deposition modelling – solid filament material forms pass through a heating tool which melts the filament and deposits it in layers to create a computer-aided design model.
  • Stereolithography – exposes materials to light wavelengths to join molecular chains together, forming rigid or solidified flexible geometries.
  • Selective laser sintering – laser points are aimed at 3D defined model space points, using sinter powdered material to bind materials together to form a solid 3D structure.
  • Extrusion-based bioprinting – uses a series of processes and layer-by-layer sequential delivery manufacture objects according to a pre-set computer-aided design model.

We mention extrusion-based bioprinting last because it is the simplest way to achieve precise control over fabricated constructs. Bioinks is made up of bioactive molecules, biomaterials and cells, an essential part of the bioprinting process. However, using natural bioinks has disadvantages and lacks the precision tailoring to create a precise scaffold and success that can be achieved using tailored synthetic bioink.

Bioinks such as the synthetic peptide hydrogel inks offered by Manchester BIOGEL provide a secure and highly adaptable 3D scaffold for 3D bioprinting cell culture applications and liquid handling. These fully synthetic bioinks are shear thinning and suitable for any extrusion-based printer. They offer a fully biologically relevant bioink engineered with a range of chemical functions and mechanical properties that can mimic the native cellular micro-environment that matches to ideally allow any tissue cell type to grow, reproduce and survive. The use of these specific bioinks linked to related peptide hydrogels allows continuance using the most suitable products when transitioning from bench to printed 3D cell cultures to offer more excellent reliability, predictability, and highly reproducible and cost-effective cell scaffolds and testing platforms.

Fully synthetic bioprinting ink advantages

Synthetic bioinks have greater adaptability to mimic the tissue type than natural-based bioinks. This makes them better able to offer cost-effective high output testing that achieves consistent results and enables scientists and researchers to avoid the many issues faced with batch-to-batch variances when using natural bioinks. Thus, making them more reliable and easily reproduced, promising hope for the future of 3D extrusion-based bioprinting.

This IOP Science review of bioprinting techniques points towards extrusion-based bioprinting as a leading technique developing in bioprinting organs and tissues. Furthermore, it offers an insight into ensuring the suitability of bioinks for the task. The difficulties of getting the ‘printability’ within a bioink are why synthetic peptide bioinks are now proving to be the most effective and viable way forward for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. This is due to their flexibility and complete adaptability required in a suitable 3D cell scaffold.


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