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High-speed 3D Printing Technique Takes Us One Step Closer to 3D-Printed Organs

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3D printing technologies have evolved at an unbelievable speed bringing about everything from 3D printed meat, to 3D printed houses.

It looks similar to sci-fi: A machine dips into a shallow tank of clear yellow goo and pulls out what turns a life-sized hand.

“The technology we have developed is ten-to-fifty times faster than the industry standard, and it works with large sample sizes that have been very difficult to achieve previously,” says the study’s co-lead author Ruogang Zhao, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering.

The study published on 15 February 2021 in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

The scientists released a 7-second video that speeds up from 19 minutes and that shows a full hand being printed at once. This process would normally need at least 6 hours using the conventional 3D printing technique.

The new technique is called — stereolithography and utilizes jelly-like materials known as hydrogels.

“Our method allows for the rapid printing of centimeter-sized hydrogel models. It significantly reduces part deformation and cellular injuries caused by the prolonged exposure to the environmental stresses you commonly see in conventional 3D printing methods,” says the study’s other co-lead author, Chi Zhou, Ph.D., associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.

The researchers also say the technique is particularly suitable for printing cells with embedded blood vessel networks. This type of technology is expected to be a central part of the production of 3D-printed human tissue and organs.

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