“Imagine being able to print human tissues on demand.”
This was the inspiration for start-up company Organovo as they set out to build the world’s first production 3D bioprinter.
For decades, the goal of tissue engineers has been to advance beyond simple two-dimensional cell cultures to creating three-dimensional organs. Organovo had a vision to produce a 3D bioprinter that would make this dream a reality, providing surgeons with tissue on demand and helping solve the global shortage of human organs.
Invetech partnered with Organovo to help them transform their core science into a reliable and commercially viable instrument. Within nine months, this partnership had solved engineering challenges that had confounded the biomedical industry for decades to design, develop, manufacture and ship the world’s first commercial 3D bioprinter.
The printer includes two robotically controlled precision print heads: one for placing human cells, the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix.
One of the most complex challenges in the development of the bioprinter was to perfect a means to consistently position the cell dispensing capillary tip attached to the print head within microns. Invetech developed a computer-controlled, laser-based calibration system to achieve the required repeatability.
While the science and engineering is incredibly complex, the intuitive user interface makes operating the printer extremely simple: the operator literally draws the organ to be built on the computer screen. The initial focus of the bioprinter is on producing simple tissues, like blood vessels and nerve conduit, but potentially any tissue or organ can be built.