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Of balls, inks and cages: Hybrid biofabrication of 3D tissue analogs

Nicanor Moldovan, Leni Maldovan, Michael Raghunath
International Journal of Bioprinting , Volume 5; doi:10.18063/ijb.v5i1.167

Abstract: The overarching principle of three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is the placing of cells or cell clusters in the 3D space to generate a cohesive tissue microarchitecture that comes close to in vivo characteristics. To achieve this goal, several technical solutions are available, generating considerable combinatorial bandwidth: (i) Support structures are generated first, and cells are seeded subsequently; (ii) alternatively, cells are delivered in a printing medium, so-called “bioink,” that contains them during the printing process and ensures shape fidelity of the generated structure; and (iii) a “scaffold-free” version of bioprinting, where only cells are used and the extracellular matrix is produced by the cells themselves, also recently entered a phase of accelerated development and successful applications. However, the scaffold-free approaches may still benefit from secondary incorporation of scaffolding materials, thus expanding their versatility. Reversibly, the bioink-based bioprinting could also be improved by adopting some of the principles and practices of scaffold-free biofabrication. Collectively, we anticipate that combinations of these complementary methods in a “hybrid” approach, rather than their development in separate technological niches, will largely increase their efficiency and applicability in tissue engineering.
Keywords: bioprinting / principle / Tissue / Structures / biofabrication / Bioink / Generated Structure / Scaffold Free

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