biotINK - the bioprinter of tomorrow

a novel DIY bioprinter via hijacking an ordinary 3D printer

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We are a team of students from the Ludwigs-Maximillians-Universität and the Technische Universität München developing a novel approach to bioprinting utelizing a hijacked Ultimaker 2+ instead of expensive specialized labware. This documentation describes the development of our Bioprinter.

What we're all about

biotINK logo

It is our goal to be able to print biological materials and even cells in a high precision manner for an affordable prize to assist scientist like us to hopefully allow for practicable 3D bioprinting for skin grafts and in the future maybe organs. As our team takes part in the iGEM competition and for this tries to modify cells in order to make them printable, we will be the first to test the device will be able to help us make bioprinting work. Print your own Bioprinter

So therefore we developed a system that will allow us to make use of the already proven capabilities of the easily obtainable Ultimaker 2+ print platform.

Instead of having to aquire expensive building blocks the end user, e.g. researchers and doctors, will be able to cheaply print nearly all parts by himself except some simple metal parts and standard wires. Due to the minute effort required for the transformation from FDM printer to bioprinter our system can be utilized and fitted to its user's needs without extensive mechanical knowledge.

Why Bioprinting is an important future technology

Print your own Bioprinter One of the major limitations in medical care is today the shortage of graft transplants.

In 2015 there were 120.000 patients waiting for a graft organ and only 1/4 of these patients received a new organ in this time period.

Due to this shortage in organ supply, there are only in the U.S. 22 dying patients per day.

The supply and transplantation of organs also constitutes a major burden for health insurance funds and these costs per patient are rising, for example from actual $1.4M to $2.0M in 2020 for the transplantation of a liver lobe.

As there number of donor organs is not expected to rise, there must be another solution for the supply of organs for transplantation.

This is the point where Bioprinting comes into play:
This technology is exprected to produce different kinds of replacement organs in this century.

For this reason we are sure that the development of an affordable, open source Bioprinter will advance the research on this field and is thus a valuable contribution to the HACKADAY's category "ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY".

How it works

We utilize the already existing second extruder outlet on the device to power and control our self-designed syringe pump.

The pump connects via a capillary to our new print head with adapter for exchangable cannula.

As the machine has to handle liquids it is not only necessary to design a build plate adapter for various cell culture plates, tubes and jars but also to modify the firmware.

Due to the addition of containers we will add an optimized user interface for the slicing software as well as a collision avoidance script, which will correct the machine code for inaccessable areas.

For the purpose of quality control we are planning to add a array of RGB LEDs with a touch based user interface, which will allow for an improved optical control via a webcam and wavelenght-spcific image analysis. This will be especially for cell culture applications as in synthetic biology the use of special fluorescent dyes and protein makers is essential.

The syringe pump

Below, you see an exploded view of our syringe pump that holds a 3 ml syringe. Its purpose is to deliver a constant and precise volume flow according to the information it receives from the printer. A stepper motor rotates a threaded spindle to create a translation that pushes in the syringe’s plunger. The thereby displaced cells are pushed through a capillary to the print head. This was inspired by a simpler 3D printed syringe pump. Subsequently, several improvements were made, which include the following:

  • Use of linear ball bearings and smooth rods to make the syringe carrier (5) move more smoothly
  • Use of simple end stop switches (8) instead of hall sensors (that did not work in the previous syringe pump. These switches tell the syringe pump to stop the movement when the syringe carrier (5) reached the end and needs to stop.
  • A bayonet catch was designed that holds the 3 ml syringe tightly...
Read more »

complete biotINK bioprinting kit for Ultimaker 2+.rar

All 3D models and manufacturing drawings neatly packed!

RAR Archive - 4.83 MB - 10/03/2016 at 19:00


1 baseplate.stl

3D object for printing of the baseplate part

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 621.37 kB - 10/01/2016 at 18:21


3 connector.stl

3D object for printing of the connector part

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 75.08 kB - 10/01/2016 at 18:21


4 trapezoidal threaded spindle.pdf

build instructions for trapezoidal threaded spindle

Adobe Portable Document Format - 14.70 kB - 10/01/2016 at 18:22


5 syringe carrier.stl

3D object for printing of the syrringe carrier part

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 96.18 kB - 10/01/2016 at 18:21


View all 12 files

  • 1 × Ultimaker 2+ advanced 3D printer for home users
  • 1 × (1) baseplate ABS plastic
  • 1 × (2) stepper motor NEMA 17 17HS4417
  • 1 × (3) connector ABS plastic
  • 1 × (4) trapezoidal thread spindle TR8x1.5

View all 26 components

  • debugging

    Julian Hofmann10/03/2016 at 22:54 0 comments

    If you want to see simulate what the gcode will do to the printer, her is our software for you to do so:

    Read more »

  • Connecting the syringe pump

    michael.x.schoen10/03/2016 at 19:26 0 comments

    To have a more convenient and faster way of changing from FDM printer to bioprinter, we decided to install plugs to connect either our syringe pump or the conventional extruder. After removing the screws we got to see the heart of our machine.

    Read more »

  • now with videos

    Julian Hofmann10/03/2016 at 17:11 0 comments

    If you couldn't imagine what our bioprinter would look like:


    real life

  • 3D files

    Julian Hofmann10/01/2016 at 18:46 0 comments

    Finally the 3D files for the plastic part of the syringe pump are online for you out there!

    So what are you waiting for? ;)

    Transform your conventional desktop 3D-printer into a fabulous laboratory-grade bioprinter !

  • the components

    Julian Hofmann10/01/2016 at 16:00 0 comments

    the list of all the stuff you need to build our syringe pump are here! Yeah!

    exploded-view diagram following shortly...

  • how to test

    Julian Hofmann09/26/2016 at 19:24 0 comments

    Have you wondered how to test your fancy new bioprinter once its done?

    Well don't fear, we got you covered!

    Read more »

  • the Hardware

    Julian Hofmann09/14/2016 at 17:00 0 comments

    first tests upcoming

    After dozens of designs and prototypes our hardware parts finally reached the first testing stage.

    First experiments with alginate should give us a good clue at what speeds our pump will have to operate and how fast the print head is allowed to move to avoid turbulent current.

    Pictures and videos (hopefully) following soon.

    parts and print files

    We are also completing the CAD files of the print parts and the list of additional hardware.

    It will go live as soon as its finished, so stay tuned!

View all 7 project logs

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