3D Printing for World Class Additive Biofabrication

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Research and Innovation


We request two pieces of core equipment to augment our capability and capacity for World Class Additive Biofabrication. These systems will allow for 3D printing with biological cells present. This is currently highly challenging and highly unsafe within current facilities - the procurement of these systems will allow UoN, and the UK, to become world leaders in this area and step ahead of the international competition. Additive biofabrication is the use of additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) to manufacture complex, biologically inspired structures with cells present during the fabrication process. This is important because biology exists in 3D and when attempting to replace, regrow or heal tissues using scaffolds and similar structures, having cells present drastically improves the chances of success. The proposed technology is essential for underpinning future therapies, such as the restoration or regrowth of organs and in the screening of new medicines for toxicity, but is also poised to provide tools and solutions for some of the world's greatest challenges, including understanding how microbes interact with their ecosystem with application to environmental science, biotechnology and addressing antimicrobial resistance.

Three items are sought.

1: Multiphoton Printer
To enable 3D printing to occur at the nanoscale, potentially realising feature sizes as small as 100 nm. We require a system with environmental protections that allow for the use of biological cells during printing, a major step forward that is not currently possible at Nottingham.

2: Micro Stereolithography Printer
Able to fabricate in the 1-100 micron range, providing complementary manufacturing capability, but also allowing much higher production rates that potentially allow for mass manufacture in the future.
The equipment requested will form the centrepiece of the Centre for Additive Biofabrication, complementing systems funded by the University of Nottingham.

3. A class II enclosure for the micro stereolithography system to ensure bio-safety protection during fabrication.

Critically, these systems will allow for manufacture with mammalian and microbial cells. This includes for example, mesenchymal and corneal stem cells to create tissues that will ultimately lead to therapeutic interventions, but also bacteria, fungi and algae which can be used to produce systems that are either anti-fouling or promote harvesting for synthetic biology purposes.

The requested items will be housed within the Bioprinting Laboratory in the Nottingham Biodiscovery Institute. This environment is a shared laboratory space dedicated to the use of additive manufacturing and related technologies in close proximity to the preparation and use of mammalian and microbial cells. This laboratory houses the University of Nottingham Additive Biofabrication team which brings together a group of multidisciplinary and multi-departmental researchers with an interest and expertise in using additive manufacturing for guiding and controlling cell behaviour. This grouping encompasses engineering, life sciences, regenerative medicine and microbiology and aims to understand the structure-function relationships that will eventually lead to, for example therapeutic interventions or industrial biotechnology solutions. The group is centred on a collaboration between the Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapies and the Centre for Additive Manufacturing (CfAM) at the University of Nottingham and is constituted of internationally leading researchers seeking to exploit the interface between additive manufacturing and regenerative medicine.


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