AM ResearchBioprintingCeramic Additive Manufacturing

Spanish Researchers 3D Print Ceramics Cell Culture Device for Lab-On-a-Chip

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Recent advances, challenges and needs, in the fields of tissue engineering and biofabrication, have promoted a growing demand of biomedical microdevices for co-culturing different cell types, learning from their mutual interactions and applying such knowledge to the development of more efficient biomimetic platforms for drug testing and disease modeling.

“[Lithoz‘] Lithography-based ceramic manufacture, working on an additive approach, using materials adequate for in vitro interaction with cells and enabling micro-features, is extremely well suited for the development of monolithic microsystems. This advanced technology opens new horizons for solving the typical limitations of labs-on-chips and organs-on-chips, especially regarding the development of such devices in a single step, with all functionalities integrated in just one part.”

The figures below show an organ-on-chip model for co-culturing different cell types, above and below the integrated cantilever micro-porous membrane, and studying their mutual interactions in a real biomimetic 3D cell culture environment.

In the study published on The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology,by researchers at two Madrid universities presented this novel approach for the design and development of three-dimensional monolithic ceramic microsystems with complex geometries and with potential applications in the biomedical field, mainly linked to labs-on-chips and organs-on-chips.

The microsystem object of study stands out for its having a complex three-dimensional geometry, for being obtained as a single integrated element, hence reducing components, preventing leakage and avoiding post-processes, and for having a cantilever porous ceramic membrane aimed at separating cell culture chambers at different levels, which imitates the typical configuration of transwell assays.

The design has been performed taking account of the special features of the manufacturing technology and includes ad hoc incorporated supporting elements, which do not affect overall performance, for avoiding collapse of the cantilever ceramic membrane during debinding and sintering.

The manufacture of the complex three-dimensional microsystem has been accomplished using Lithoz’ CeraFab 7500 systems, by means of lithography-based ceramic manufacture, the additive manufacturing technology which currently provides the most appealing compromises between overall part size and precision when working with ceramic materials.

The microsystem obtained provides one of the most remarkable examples of monolithic bio-microsystems and a step forward in the field of ceramic microsystems with complex geometries for lab-on-chip and organ-on-chip applications. Cell culture results help to highlight the potential of the proposed approach and the adequacy of using ceramic materials for biological applications and for interacting at a cellular level.

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