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Inkjet Technology for Digital Fabrication by Graham D. Martin, Ian M. Hutchings

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Chapter 12

Biopolymers and Cells

Paul Calvert1 and Thomas Boland2

1College of Engineering, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USA

2Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

12.1 Introduction

Bioprinting, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine are linked aspiring technologies with the goal of building tissues in the laboratory. One ultimate application is implantable organs, such as a heart or liver. Bioreactors are a second area of application. 3D scaffolds that contain embedded cells and have a flow of nutrients could be used to generate biomolecules either when implanted or as an alternative to industrial fermentation methods. An implantable artificial pancreas containing embedded human or animal cells is an example. While simple 2D sensors can be made by conventional deposition methods, we could also envisage a need for 3D biosensor structures where greater sensitivity would come from increased surface area or from patterned arrays.

“Cells” covers a wide range from bacteria to yeast to human cells, all with a wide variety of needs. All need a supply of oxygen and nutrients, which may become limited by diffusion in 3D structures. Many types of bacteria and animal cells can build their own extracellular matrix, but the bioprinting process can provide at least an initial matrix. Most cell types will continually multiply or slowly die, so artificial tissues will need to accommodate cell growth or be constructed for a definite life cycle. ...

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