According to Gartner, one of the most futuristic technologies in the 3D printing space is actually much closer to realizing its potential than you’d imagine. Already in the past year we’ve seen 3D printed thyroids, 3D printed mini kidneys, and functional tissue. Now, researchers at University of Toronto Engineering have pioneered a “person-on-a-chip”, capable of growing human tissues for medical testing and, possibly one day, organ transplantation.
Published in the journal of Nature Materials, the U of T team describes what they call the AngioChip, consisting of a scaffold made from POMaC, biodegradable and biocompatible polymer. Rather than 3D printing the scaffold with an extruder, as occurs with Organovo’s technology, the layers of the chip are stamped and stacked. Each layer contains small channels, about 50 to 100 microns wide. Once the layers are stacked, resulting in a a network of blood vessels, the object is UV-cured and placed into a culture of living cells that attach to the AngioChip and begin growing.