Printing Biocompatible 3D Microstructures in Seconds
The goal of many biomedical researchers is to find a way to grow new tissues or even organs for those patients who need them. To do that, the cells involved will have to have a structure they can grow on, like plants growing on a cage or trellis. There are already many methods to build these structures, and now researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed another that can get the job done in just seconds.
Dynamic Optical Projection stereoLithography (DOPsL) is already used for printing larger objects such as tools and car parts, but has advantages of photolithography and micro-contact printing, two techniques currently used to build microstructures. One is that it can operate with high resolution, which is needed when trying to mimic fine details found in nature, such as blood vessels. It also can create complex 3D structures, instead of the simpler 2D patterns the other methods are mostly limited to, and does so faster than other methods to produce 3D structures.
For the immediate future this technology could be used to create the microstructure for cells to grow on and eventually form a tissue. In the long term though, the researchers hope to see this or an evolution of this technology used to actually print complete tissues, ready for implanting in patients.