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Step 8: Lessons learned and future work

We dug into this project with essentially zero hands-on expertise with bioprinting, driving stepper motors, driving inkjet cartridges, or even programming Arduino! So naturally, not everything we did was as optimal as it might be. Here's some things we might do different next time:

- Learning how stepper motors work and how to drive them was a really valuable learning experience, but we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and effort by adapting some of the RAMPS (RepRap Arduino MEGA Pololu Shield) technology that has already been well developed for precisely this purpose by the 3D printing community. In particular, the Pololu stepper drivers already have microstepping capability built-in.

- Building your own XY stage for essentially free is great! But we are using these stepper motors for something they were never designed for, and it's starting to show. We are already getting some trouble with the bottom stage skipping occasionally, presumably because we've been resetting the sage by hand too often, which puts a lot of wear on the plastic bits that track the worm gear. It would be easy enough to buy some stepper motors brand-new, lasercut a frame to hold them, add some micro switches for end stops, and code a position reset function in software.

- Once you start sourcing brand new stepper motors, laser cutting a frame, and wiring up RAMPS electronics, why not just start with a 3D printer instead? If we get tired with our current BioPrinter version, that's probably the direction we'll go. Cost would likely go up by an order of magnitude or so though...

- Having a single print head has its own limitations. If we really wanted to do some sort of tissue engineering, we'd love to be able to print multiple cell types, and put some scaffolding material in between. We could potentially put two inkjet cartridges back-to-back. The solution the Big Boys in this field use is syringe pumps. Imagine having several syringe pumps sitting next to the printer, each feeding a different printing material via a thin tube to a needle mounted on the print head. Stay tuned...

Now the elephant in the room... What the heck do you do with your own BioPrinter? I don't think a place like BioCurious will ever compete head-to-head with companies like Organovo in terms of printing human tissues or organs. For one, animal cells take a lot of effort to maintain. Plant cells are much easier to work with though! Don't want to give everything away, but stay tuned for some of our next Instructables!

Meanwhile, here are some ideas:

- Print gradients of nutrients and/or antibiotics on a layer of cells to study combinatorial interactions - or even to select different isolates from an environmental sample.
- Print patterns of growth factors on a layer of eukaryotic cells to study cell differentiation.
- Print two or more microbial species at different distances from each other, to study metabolic interactions.
- Set up a computational problem as a 2D pattern of engineered microbes on an agar plate.
- Study Reaction-Diffusion systems
- Print 3D structures by over-printing layers using the inkjet head. Now you can consider doing all the above in 3D!
- Print cell in a sodium alginate solution, onto a surface soaked in calcium chloride, to build up 3D gel structures (similar to spherification process in Molecular Gastronomy)

- More ideas? Post them in the comments!
<p>Hi, </p><p>Very nice project!</p><p>I have a question about the Inkshield part. I got my inkshield now but it seems to print not on the entire height. So the bottom part of the letters are cut off?? </p><p>I checked the contacts an everything seems to be fine, the ink is brand new? but coud a nozzle be broken or really badly clogged? i tried to clean it with isopropanol but nothing. It just chops 1 or two lines of... any ideas? just a new ink?</p>
<p>Hey figured it out (at least for me). The root of the problem is that your printhead is not getting 20V throughout the print. I was having voltage drops as i printed which caused the odd printing. This can be fixed by using a different inductor or by running a 20V line directly (thats what I did). </p>
<p>DUDE! ME TOO! I thought I was the only one, have you figured out anything?</p>
HEy! no... no luck the creator took my money and doesn't respond to any mails... <br>perhaps write him to!?
<p>So the first image is the problem I think we share. If not what does yours do. The second image is an interesting interaction - when I move the position of the inkhead in the carrier is when I get these results (NOTE: The top bar was from testing it the first way mutliple times - normally its just lines). I move the position by pulling the inkhead out one &quot;click&quot;. I know this looks like a short but I have tested for rogue continuity everyday. According to Lewis's website, the second image is indicative of an issue with the ABCD connection but I dont know how to fix it when I know the points are on (otherwise how would I get the first image to print at all). </p>
<p>dang man, I've been trying so much to figure this out, Ill post my &quot;results&quot;. I did find some interesting interactions but I dont know what to make of it. I will say though, I did not use his kit. Im working on a 3d printer that uses his tech but the problem im having is an inkshield problem. So how does it happen for you?</p>
<p>Its terrific :)</p>
<p>Hi, this is really interesting, but sadly doesn't quite tell me what I nee to know for my project.</p><p>I am trying to get an Epson ink cartridge to print on demand using an arduino. I already have the movement sorted, but can't figure out how to get the ink to dispense.</p><p>Any ideas? Really struggling</p>
could you use this to make leather
<p>To print your own leather? There are groups working on this!</p>
<p>Is there any way I can make a 3D Printer With an old laserjet printer, and arduino, cd drives? I have 2 arduinos..... But is there any way I could do that<br></p>
<p>You could do a very limited one but keep in mind that this design doesn't have an X axis and a very limited print area (neither of which is an issue for bioprinting because of the small quantities being worked with).</p>
<p>here's the ebola strand :) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/10313991</p>
<p>(yes I am aware that it is not feasible to do this with this particular strand of ebola... or any)</p>
For printing in papers we use inks , but for priniting life cells what should we use ???????
<p>other living cells</p>
Soften any 'plastic', abs with a couple drops. Mix by weight 60% lacquer thinner and 40% acetone. (You can alao combine 30 to 35% ether and 65 to 70% naphtha to make a petroleum distillate but remember it's 72% volatile!) Use a suitable eye dropper non-plastic or rubber...some plastics are safe as applicators. For really small precision jobs use a suitable syringe. Polyethylene for example should be ok to use. <br><br>(You know the drill for safely dealing with chemicals...don't be stupid! Get a little help from someone who knows what they're doing and where) (http://www.uic.edu/sph/glakes/harts1/HARTS_library/solventhazards.txt)<br>This solvent works fine for making plastic welds and all sorts of plastic repairs.<br><br>Make sure to use lacquer thinner and not just toluene. The additives help make a close solvent to weld plastic. Check VOC's before you start. No MEK required but it's ok if in the lacquer thinner. (Thin out some ABS solvent and dissolve ground abs to make a great filler. <br><br>
Sorry just fyi...I'm a hack so check everything before trying to open a cartridge. I have very advanced training in industrial fabrication but the tinkering is just a hobby that I totally get for no explained reason.<br>Keep safe.
<p>I'm absolutely amazed. This work is truly fantastic. No other words than compliments and compliments. A little question.<br>Do you think is it possible using living animal cells to build an active layer for an enzimatic bioreactor like a sintetic belly - gut?</p>
<p>Wow very cool</p>
<p>Good work with printer.</p>
<p>This is a fantastic Instructable. Now I won't have to steal live kidneys anymore.</p>
<p>kidneys and eggs yum!</p>
<p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qXXZLoq2zFc" width="500"></iframe></p><p>The first minute explains the possibilities of BioPrinters.</p>
<p>Amazing work!!!</p>
<p>Three words: Living Litmus Paper</p>
<p>Aren't the inks in inkjet cartridges alcohol based? Wouldn't it make more sense to put rubbing alcohol to clean the cartridges rather than just plain water?</p>
<p>Wow! This is amazing. Great job. </p><p>Congratulations guys!</p>
People are selling refillable ink cartridges now, so it might be much easier (and safer) to buy a cartridge that is designed to be refilled. (Although, you'd still have to open it up &amp; remove the sponge) <br>http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=a9_asi_1?rh=i%3Aoffice-products%2Ck%3Arefillable+ink+cartridges&amp;keywords=refillable+ink+cartridges&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1443536137
<p>it is seems to be fantastic.us it possible to get the coding for the bioprinter ? if yes plss mail me </p>
<p>This project really very cool!</p><p>Iam impressed.</p>
<p>Hi ! <br><br>Great project . is it possible to get the codes used for the project. im trying to figure out how to use inkshield for a similar project of mine and im only a beginner :)<br><br>Thanks alot !</p>
<p>CAN I USE HP DESKJET 3650 INSTEAD OF THE INKJET PRINTER??</p>
<p>How about using a cnc milling machine to cut a precision opening in the top of the ink cartridges. Then another part could be machined to fit in the opening to close it. Look at the Othermill - www.othermachine.co/othermill as a suggestion.</p>
<p>clever, i'll give this a go when they come to town!</p>
<p>hello, does anyone have a sample of the arduino code? please email me abrarnourallah@gmail.com</p>
<p>Excellent project. Must try this</p>
<p>Interesting! But I have a question. What happened to the plate of E.coli on the agar plate? Wouldn't the cells eventually die off or if given nutrients grow so that the words were obscured? Is there any way to preserve the cells besides a picture? Or is deterioration inevitable?</p>
<p>I am working on a presentation for College, does anyone know what the price is? I would also like to know what will the market for this be? Will it be distributed to hospitals or will it be able to be used in small clinics?</p>
<p>Hi Alex! I visited BioBots website! When will the BioBots be available?</p>
<p>We are working on something similar over at <a href="http://www.biobots.io/" rel="nofollow">BioBots</a>. A low cost, high resolution, 3D bioprinter that is revolutionizing the field of regenerative medicine.</p>
<p>Its really good :)</p>
<p>Really good</p>
<p>Thats astounding...</p>

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