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The BioAssembly Bot
The BioAssembly Bot is a robot created by Advanced Solutions in partnership with researchers at the University of Louisville to assemble and 3D print human tissue.
A patient’s MRI is used in Tissue Structure Information Modeling (TSIM), the software that Advanced Solutions built to work in conjunction with the BioAssembly Bot (BAB). The software is designed to allow doctors and scientists to easily manipulate patient-specific data to build and print tissue structures, without having to work with 3D printing CAD software.
A bioprinting robot
Dr. Jay Hoying explains how the BAB works. The six axis robot is on wheels because eventually, the team wants it to roll into an operating room to print tissue at a doctor’s command. The entire package, including TSIM software, costs $159,995.
The entire package
The prints can be controlled remotely on a computer with the TSIM software, if a doctor or scientist is in an office, or on this screen, directly next to the robot.
Printing using hydrogel
To print prototypes, Advanced Solutions and researchers from the University of Louisville are using hydrogel, which is what is inside gel caps. The material is a good consistency and easy to print with.
A seamless process
On the screen, a camera shows a close-up image of what the needle is doing and how accurate the print is. The BAB can print in, around, and on top of a structure, which is critical when building human tissue.
The BAB will be available to doctors and researchers. It is meant to democratize biology, in a way, so that developments in science can happen at a faster rate.
The BioAssembly Tool
The BioAssembly Tool (BAT) resides inside the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute (CII), where Dr. Stu Williams and Dr. Jay Hoying have been working on isolating fat cells and turning them into heart cells to print. Until now, they have used the BAT for their trials.
The traditional printing process
The BAT prints models of a capillary bed using hydrogel. The machine, as technologically advanced as it is, is much slower than the BAB. The robot arm is only a three-axis and does not like to print in circular shapes, which is important for printing human tissues.
Printing a capillary bed
Dr. Hoying holds a model of the capillary bed. After printing a mold of the capillary bed using hydrogels (i.e. from gel caps), the material is dissolved by being cooled it is cooled and flushed out, creating hollow channels for regenerative fat-derived cells to then be pushed through to form the vascular walls.
Two versions from the BAT
On the right is the new mold of the capillary bed, which took three trials to print and still turned out wrong. Much of the process is trial and error.
The traditional method
The BAT requires the researchers to script the calculations for the geometric shapes by hand. It is a lengthy process that results in a lot of trial and error.
Advanced Solutions printed a model of a heart using a FDM 3D printer. It sits in the lobby of their office in Louisville, Kentucky.
Creations for BAB
Plastic models of the tissues the team at Advanced Solutions and University of Louisville want to eventually build using biological material sit in the lobby of the Advanced Solutions office.