3-D-Printed Microstructures Can Be Tailored to Disease Models

University of Colorado at Boulder researchers have developed a 3-D printing technology that allows them to simulate the complex geometry of highly structured blood vessels that must remain pliable. The new approach holds promise for artificial tissue fabrication.

“The idea was to add independent mechanical properties to 3-D structures that can mimic the body’s natural tissue,” said Xiaobo Yin, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

To overcome the challenges of finding a solution to viable artery and tissue replacement, the team found a way to take advantage of the role of oxygen in setting the final form of a 3-D-printed structure. They used a layer that enables a fixed rate of oxygen permeation, the scientists reported. Maintaining control over oxygen migration and its subsequent light exposure allowed them to control which areas of an object are solidified to be harder or softer, all while keeping the overall geometry the same.

“This is a profound development and an encouraging first step toward our goal of creating structures that function like a healthy cell should function,” said postdoctoral researcher Yonghui Ding.

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