Tag Archives: UPenn

Scientists Create Blood Vessels Using Sugar and 3D Printing

3D Printing Blood Vessels

University researchers have discovered a way to 3D print blood vessels, using sugar as the “ink” and a RepRap 3D printer. UPenn and MIT researchers collaborated on the study.

The research was conducted by a team led by postdoctoral fellow Jordan S. Miller and Christopher S. Chen, the Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering at Penn, along with Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Wilson Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and postdoctoral fellow Kelly R. Stevens in Bhatia’s laboratory.

The researchers published their findings in Nature and summarized their results in a UPenn statement.

Rather than trying to print a large volume of tissue and leave hollow channels for vasculature in a layer-by-layer approach, Chen and colleagues focused on the vasculature first and designed free-standing 3D filament networks in the shape of a vascular system that sat inside a mold. As in lost-wax casting, a technique that has been used to make sculptures for thousands of years, the team’s approach allowed for the mold and vascular template to be removed once the cells were added and formed a solid tissue enveloping the filaments.

The formula they settled on — a combination of sucrose and glucose along with dextran for structural reinforcement — is printed with a RepRap, an open-source 3D printer with a custom-designed extruder and controlling software. An important step in stabilizing the sugar after printing, templates are coated in a thin layer of a degradable polymer derived from corn. This coating allows the sugar template to be dissolved and to flow out of the gel through the channels they create without inhibiting the solidification of the gel or damaging the growing cells nearby. Once the sugar is removed, the researchers start flowing fluid through the vascular architecture and cells begin to receive nutrients and oxygen similar to the exchange that naturally happens in the body.

Below is a video showing their amazing discovery.


Read more from the UPenn summary.

Blood vessel photo by shoebappa used under Creative Commons license.

MIT Scientists Putting $10 Million Grant Toward 3D Printed Robots

Researchers from MIT are embarking on a mission to ”make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours.”

With a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, collaborators from MIT, Harvard and UPenn are hoping to “democratize access to robots” within 5 years.

The Potential Impact? 

Disposable, “origami-esque” robots could be printed on demand and programmed to perform tasks, from getting into hard-to-reach places to cleaning unsanitary surfaces and beyond. The goal of this research is to make robots accessible to everyone, thereby inspiring a new wave of technological innovation applied to real world challenges.

Below is a video of some of the prototype robots that have been built.

Read more at Wired.