3D Printer HardwareBiofabricationBioprinting

Scientists build functional LEGO bioprinter for skin

A project originating at Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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Scientists at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have designed and built a fully-functional 3D printer out of LEGO that can print synthetic skin and other tissues. The LEGO bioprinter is more affordable than other similar systems on the market and is open for anyone to replicate.

Using LEGO Mindstorm kits and a programmable controller, they have designed an inexpensive and easy-to-build 3D printer that is contributing to pioneering research. The team at Cardiff (Dr. Chris Taylor, Dr. Sion Coulman, Dr. Oliver Castell, and Dr. Ahmed Moukachar) are using the LEGO bioprinter to create 3D models of synthetic skin to be able to test drug delivery and efficacy.

Scientists from Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences build functional LEGO bioprinter for skin

The researchers have published the design for the printer so that researchers across the globe can build their own. This work was primarily supported by a British Skin Foundation (BSF) Ph.D. studentship grant (059/s/16), together with support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement ID: 824060 – ‘ACDC’. Music.

Like conventional extrusion 3D printers, the prices of microfluidic-based bioprinters have dropped dramatically since the first RepRap and open-source systems were released on the market. Using LEGO can potentially make them even more affordable. LEGO is not directly involved in this project however the Danish company has been rapidly increasing its interests and activities in additive manufacturing in recent months and this initiative could offer an opportunity for a new line of products.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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