Additive manufacturing has become one of the most innovative technologies in the pharmaceutical and medical fields and it is an important focus in the research at the iPrint Institute. Within the last decade, there have been significant advances in the engineering of drug delivery and medical devices. The technology has even made advancements in the production of living tissues. The principle of "Biomedical Printing" relies on the placement of bioinks into spatially defined structures using automated 3D printing technologies.
The iPrint Institute “Biomedical Printing” research group leads projects which include a variety of 3D Printing processes, in particular extrusion-based Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Inkjet-based 3D Printing. For drug delivery innovation, Inkjet-based 3D Printing could potentially allow for the printing of patient-specific oral pills on-demand, lowering costs and easing manufacturing.
In the future, we expect the development of a more personalized medicine as the dosing and release characteristics of the drug delivery devices can be changed by altering its pharmaceutical content and 3D design using computer-aided design (CAD). Multidisciplinary research at the iPrint Institute has led to the development of a multi-material 3D Biomedical Printing approach for the engineering of vascularized tissues composed of living human cells. The first application for these artificial living tissues lies in the replacement of animal testing for drug screening. In comparison to living animals, engineered tissues are more cost-effective and more reproducible while limiting the errors due to inter-species differences and causing less ethical concerns.
Recently the technology has even made advancements in the production of cartilage tissue for use in either reconstruction or regeneration, the production of bioresorbable stents and less invasive procedures for deploying implant devices, such as scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering.
If research continues to rise in the area of Biomedical Printing, there is a huge potential for Inkjet-based 3D Printing to leave the proof of concept stage and to be developed into a widely used manufacturing tool. These studies could lead to manufacturing living organs in some years from now.
The iPrint Institute will continuously work together with industry and stands as an important player in this exciting field of innovation.