It sounds like science fiction: a machine that plunges into a shallow bowl of clear yellow goo and pulls out what becomes a life-size hand.
But the seven-second video, sped up from 19 minutes, is real.
The hand, which takes six hours to create using traditional 3D printing methods, illustrates what the University’s engineers at Buffalo say is a progression toward 3D-printed human tissues and organs – biotechnology that could save countless lives lost due to a shortage of donor organs.
“The technology we developed is 10-50 times faster than industry standards, and it works at large sample sizes that previously were very difficult to achieve,” says co-lead author of the study Ruogang Zhao, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering.
The work is described in a study Published in Advanced Healthcare Materials.
It centers around a 3D printing method called stereolithography and gel-like materials known as hydrogels, which are used to create diapers, contact lenses and scaffolds, among other things, in tissue engineering.
The latter app is especially useful for 3D printing, which is something the research team has spent a large portion of their efforts optimizing to achieve incredibly fast and accurate 3D printing technology.
Our method allows for rapid printing of centimeter-sized hydrogel models. It significantly reduces the parts deformation and cellular injuries resulting from long exposure to environmental stresses that you usually see in conventional 3D printing methods, ”says the study’s other co-lead author, Chi Chu, PhD, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.
The researchers say this method is particularly suitable for printing cells with embedded vascular networks, a modern technology that is expected to be an essential part of the production of 3D printed human tissues and organs.
Early authors of the study include former University of Buffalo students Nandidha Anandakrishnan, Ph.D., now a postdoctoral researcher at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Hang Yi, Ph.D., now a research scientist at SprintRay Inc. lab, who is also the first author.
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