Treating severely burned people with 3D printing is now possible with PrintAlive Bioprinter, a Canadian prototype that prints bandages that resemble human skin.
PrintAlive Bioprinter, a biological 3D printer developed by the Canadians Arianna McAllister and Lian Leng, students at the University of Toronto, prints skin at an unprecedented fabrication speed and resolution. The printer was created with the intention of treating severe burns, as the treatments that are currently used present a number of inconveniences: autograft requires collecting large amounts of skin from the patient, which is not always possible depending on the extent of the damage; allografts may be rejected; synthetic substitutes are prohibitive; cell therapy takes a long time to implement.
The two researchers applied a biological printing technology that they developed themselves. The 3D printer prints bandages made of cells that precisely reproduce the main characteristics of human skin. Using a cartridge filled with micro-fluids, the printer can continuously produce these hydrogel sheets containing several types of cells, in order to control the thickness of the graft, as well as its structure and its composition.
PrintAlive Bioprinter presentation video:
PrintAlive Bioprinter has already been awarded “2013 Invention of the Year” by the University of Toronto. Arianna McAllister and Lian Leng are also competing for the international James Dyson Award (named after the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner), which will be awarded on November 6. The ultimate winner of the competition will receive $45,000 plus $15,000 for their university.
James Dyson Award website