Bioprinting is in its very early stages, and it might be one of the great hopes for the future of medicine.
A shortage of transplant donors means that about 20 of the 113,000 on the US transplant list die every day.
The application of predictive computer modeling to bioprinting, as outlined in an AIP Publishing paper, could lead to advances in devices that can print 3D living tissue, bones, and organs on command.
A technology in its infancy
Though it holds great promise, bioprinting is a relatively new technology — 3D printers are used to make human tissue layer by layer, and problems still exist with delicate organs collapsing as they are created.
Indeed, companies like Techshot are even testing space as an optimal environment to grow new organs, as zero gravity conditions would help prevent the tissue collapsing.
A study based on computing could also be key.
New advances via predictive computer modeling
Scientists are now applying the laws of physics and predictive computer modeling to bioprinting in order to further advance the field. Their findings were revealed in the June 4 issue of Applied Physics Reviews, from AIP Publishing.
"The only way to achieve a significant transition from 'trial and error' to the 'predict and control' phase of bioprinting," says Applied Physics Review co-author Ashkan Shafiee, "is to understand and apply the underlying physics."
The paper applied predictive modeling to different printers and the laws of physics that apply to their different functions.
An extrusion printer loads 'bioink' into a syringe and prints by spraying the ink precisely via a piston or air pressure.
A laser printer, meanwhile, focuses a laser beam in order to print a thin layer of bioink, leading to high cell viability.
The authors showed in their study that simulations using predictive computer modeling could correctly predict the pattern in which a collection of cells will assemble during the printing process.
Ultimately, advances in this field could lead to a lifesaving technology going mainstream.