The use of 3D printing in biological applications is a new field of study given that 3D printing technology has become more available and user friendly. Possible uses include using existing 3D printing polymers to use in extracorporeal or in vitro devices, like Lab-on-a-Chip, and the development of new biologically derived materials to print cell-containing constructs. The latter concept is what is more commonly known as bioprinting. Our research had the goal of developing a bioprinting system including the printer, a bioink, and a feedback system for printing parameter optimization which could be done cheaply and within the reach of nearly any research lab. To make the bioprinter, we were able to take a popular plastic 3D printer and convert it to a bioprinter with 3D printed parts and the addition of a new motherboard. This came with great contribution from Carnegie Melon University. We were also able to improve upon the original design and, along with the new bioprinting capabilities, maintain the original capabilities of the plastic 3D printer. A new bioink was developed to work in coordination with this bioprinting system. Our lab has the luxury of having access to decellularized tissue, which provided a unique material to create a bioink which is derived from the extra-cellular matrix of porcine hearts. The final bioink protocol allows the users to make their own bioink, from easily obtainable tissue and determine their own concentration of the extra-cellular matrix/collagen within a range. Lastly, a feedback system was developed using a Raspberry Pi and camera module to provide real-time visual feedback of the bioprinting process which is otherwise very difficult to see and optimize parameters from. A protocol was developed to sequentially optimize the parameters for an open-source slicing software which governs the resolution of the bioprinter itself. In related research, the cytotoxicity and cell adherence properties of a printing resin for a microfluidic 3D printer were evaluated for use in Lab-on-a-Chip applications. The existing resin was tested and determined to be cytotoxic to cells and therefore not suitable for biological applications. We showed that a simple ethanol washing step and plasma treatment pulled the cytotoxic elements out of the polymer and modified the surface such that cells could attach and proliferate on the printed resin. Another printed resin was also tested which was determined to have no natural cytotoxicity, but the same plasma treatment was needed to allow for cell adherence.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





bioprinting, 3dprinting, collagen, tissue engineering, bioink, alginate, cytotoxicity



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Engineering Commons