Date of Award

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical and Chemical Engineering


Pranav Soman


3D Printing, Bioprinting, Scaffolds

Subject Categories



The scarcity of organs for patients that need transplants has led to exceedingly

lengthy waits for organ transplants for sick patients. Fabrication of tissues and organ

constructs in-vitro has potential to end the shortage, however many of the machines

used to create these tissues and organs are expensive, not easy to use, and do not

have any further practical applications. Bioprinting technology has the potential to

revolutionize the fabrication of biological constructs that can be used as in vitro model

tissues and vivo substitutes. Bioprinting is the process of using conventional 3D printing

methods and computer-aided-design (CAD) to create patient and user specific

constructs with biological material. 3D printers are ideal for low volume customizable

parts, and when these parts can be made of living cells and biomaterials these

machines become ideal for cell based research. Converting commercially available 3D

printers into biomanufacturing units answers several problems that are faced by

researchers, namely: the ability to create 3D multicomponent system creating

multicellular interfaces in cell culture, and the ability to study cells in a true 3D

environment. Although biological tissues have a range of cell types and material

properties, current bioprinting methods are limited in their ability to print multiple

materials simultaneously, especially tissues with vastly different material properties. For

instance, printing of soft gels alongside a hard-structural material remains a challenge,

as the thermal, mechanical, and biochemical parameters during the printing process

must be maintained in an appropriate range to ensure high viability of living cells.

Therefore, to truly realize the potential of bioprinting within the biomedical community,

new capabilities that allow multi-material bioprinting are needed. The goal of this work is

to enable four capabilities using commercially available inexpensive 3D printers: (i)

printing of new thermoplastics, (ii) printing of structural thermoplastic material alongside

soft biomaterials (iii) printing two soft biomaterials and/or cell types using conventional

extrusion printing, and (iv) printing soft biomaterials that do not possess the necessary

material properties for conventional extrusion printing. Results from this work will

democratize bioprinting technology by driving down the cost of entry into the field, and

will enable its use in solving important challenges in the field of tissue engineering.


Open Access

Included in

Engineering Commons



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