3D Printing trade opinions the LulzBot Bio 3D bioprinter.
Designed by US-based 3D printer producer FAME 3D, the LulzBot Bio is the primary and solely 3D bioprinting system underneath the corporate’s signature LulzBot model. The product line has been round since 2011, with a concentrate on open-source FDM 3D printers just like the TAZ SideKick and TAZ Workhorse.
In keeping with the LulzBot ethos, the Bio is certainly one other open-hardware machine – this time working on the corporate’s Fluid Deposition Fabrication (FDF) bioprinting expertise. The system is constructed for Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) printing, providing compatibility with every part from bioinks and unmodified collagen to alginate and different tender biomaterials.
So far as potential functions go, LulzBot has designed the machine for in-vitro pharmaceutical and beauty testing functions, tissue engineering, regenerative drugs, and extra.
Priced at a comparatively inexpensive $9,950, the Bio is primarily aimed toward researchers and academic establishments in search of a cheap entry to biofabrication.
A strong gateway to 3D bioprinting
LulzBot actually has positioned accessibility entrance and heart right here, because the plug-and-play Bio comes full with every part you’ll want to start 3D bioprinting. This consists of sodium alginate printing materials, Fluidform 3D’s LifeSupport gel medium, a syringe, 25 and 30-gauge shelling out needles, Petri dishes, specimen cups, and a plethora of upkeep instruments.
The Bio itself relies on the cartesian axis system, a configuration identified to be extra inflexible and correct than a delta or CoreXY setup (albeit slower). On the construct quantity entrance, now we have a 2.88L envelope measuring 160 x 160 x 89mm, which is ample house for a complete host of lab-based bioprinting functions.
Equally, the compact 762 x 635 x 533mm working footprint allows the Bio to simply match inside laminar move cupboards or on prime of counters. That includes a really LulzBot-esque full-metal body, the system is rugged sufficient to be sterilized with each ethyl alcohol and UV lights.
Wanting on the construct plate, now we have a warmth borosilicate glass print mattress able to sustaining as much as 120°C. Although not apparent at first, a variable temperature heated mattress is essential on this case because it permits for full management of the printing circumstances, making certain biomaterial viability all through the printing course of.
On the electronics facet, the Bio comes outfitted with a 4.3” full-color touchscreen and a multilingual person interface. Right here we will calibrate the printer, warmth the mattress, and management printing. The UI itself is crisp, responsive, and wrapped in a blue-based colour scheme with an intuitive format in addition. Connectivity choices embrace a USB cable and an SD card. All in all, no complaints right here.
The contents of the package deal and the construct plate. Images by 3D Printing Business.
An open supplies ecosystem
The Bio truly seems quite a bit like lots of LulzBot’s authentic FDM 3D printers, besides the filament extruder has been substituted for a devoted Syringe Pump Extruder. The toolhead is appropriate with 2.5ml, 5ml, and 10ml syringes, in addition to 25 and 30-gauge shelling out needles.
Whereas the Bio comes full with ready-to-print profiles for alginate and unmodified collagen, it additionally sports activities an open supplies ecosystem so it may be configured to dispense all kinds of fluid-based inks. This consists of photocurable resins, thermosets, silicone, and epoxies. For the needs of this overview, we’ll be specializing in the sodium alginate (printing materials) and LifeSupport (suspensory gel/help materials) included within the field.
Sodium alginate contains round 30% – 60% alginic acid and is a naturally occurring, edible polysaccharide discovered within the cell partitions of marine brown algae. The hydrophilic materials varieties a viscous gum when hydrated, making the preparation of the printing materials pretty easy.
To arrange the ink, we added 98ml of distilled water, 0.2g of alcian blue dye, and 2g of sodium alginate powder to a beaker. We then combined the contents on a magnetic mixer to make sure homogeneity. After three hours of blending, the sodium alginate bioprinting materials is prepared to be used. Simple.
Then again, LifeSupport is a special-purpose help materials designed to forestall bioprinted buildings from collapsing and deforming throughout the printing course of. In essence, it acts as a suspension matrix so tender hydrogel bioinks will be disbursed into advanced geometries with out the necessity for sacrificial help inks or ink modifiers that improve mechanical stability.
To arrange LifeSupport, we rehydrated the powder with 35ml of distilled water at a temperature of 4°C within the supplied tube. We then shook the tube vigorously for a minute to make sure sufficient mixing and let the compound stand for ten minutes to permit it to totally rehydrate. We then positioned it in a centrifuge at 1000g to compact it down into the underside of the tube. That is essential because it must be in a gelatinous state to function a suspensory materials.
As soon as printing is full, the LifeSupport media is heated to show it again right into a liquid, which allows us to extract the printed sodium alginate buildings with ease.
The LulzBot Bio’s printhead and printing supplies. Images by 3D Printing Business.
The Cura LulzBot Version slicer
LulzBot offers its personal free slicing software program for all of its 3D printing methods, and the Bio isn’t any exception. Primarily based on the widely-used open-source Ultimaker Cura, the reskinned LulzBot Version slicer affords all the performance you’d anticipate from any normal FDM print preparation software program.
Very similar to the unique Cura, the LulzBot Version options primary translation, rotation, and resizing capabilities, all wrapped up in a digestible person interface. The movement system in use right here is similar to most different rivals available on the market, so it’s easy sufficient to select up with a couple of minutes of experimenting with the mouse.
After deciding on the LulzBot Bio from the printers record, we discovered that the Advisable settings had been greater than sufficient to get began, which is ideal for learners. There are a variety of preset parameters out there however the software program additionally allows customers to pick the fabric, the needle gauge, in addition to the syringe’s inner diameter. Extra superior customers will need to dive into the Customized settings, the place the complete suite of construct parameters is unlocked.
Finally, the LulzBot Version slicer does its job with none main shortcomings – it runs about as quick as the unique Cura and maintains all the core performance.
Benchmarking the LulzBot Bio
Now comes the benchmarking portion of the overview, the place we put the LulzBot Bio to the take a look at with a set of bioprinting experiments. For our first construct, we determined to leap proper in and 3D print a proper coronary artery utilizing sodium alginate and LifeSupport.
First proper coronary artery print take a look at. Images by 3D Printing Business.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the primary print run was riddled with points. We found that the LifeSupport gel we ready wasn’t but onerous sufficient so the sodium alginate didn’t keep in place after dispensation. This resulted in extreme distortion, leaching, and stringing between the branches of the artery.
This doesn’t imply we gave up, nonetheless, as we went again to the drafting board to fine-tune the setup course of and re-do the construct as soon as extra. With a purpose to formulate a extra viscous LifeSupport gel, we cooled the distilled water earlier than mixing it with the powder, then let it stand for quarter-hour earlier than working it by means of the centrifuge. We additionally used a brand new batch of sodium alginate for good measure, and decreased each the layer thickness and line width parameters within the printing course of.
Second coronary artery print take a look at. Images by 3D Printing Business.
And it labored like a appeal. Our revamped coronary artery turned out a lot cleaner than the primary mannequin, with no stringing or leaching anyplace. To protect the print, we ran it by means of two baths to rinse it off and positioned it in an answer of distilled water with 1% calcium chloride.
We then tasked the LulzBot Bio with printing a trileaflet coronary heart valve, which has a way more advanced inner geometry than the coronary artery. This construct was additionally considerably bigger than the primary run, requiring two tubes of LifeSupport.
Trileaflet coronary heart valve print take a look at. Images by 3D Printing Business.
We’d perfected the prep and printing course of by this level, so the center valve turned out flawless. Regardless of the inner complexities of the mannequin, the Bio dealt with the print with grace, delivering clear surfaces, easy curves, and a definite lack of defects. So far as print high quality goes, this method is a winner.
There’s additionally one thing to be mentioned in regards to the sheer ease of use of this machine. To a newcomer, the bioprinting workflow might sound daunting however LulzBot has finished a superb job of crafting an accessible path to biofabrication. We discovered the operation of the system to be about as intuitive as a run-of-the-mill desktop FDM printer, so now we have little doubt customers the world over could have a breezy expertise.
When all is claimed and finished, we had been pleasantly shocked with the LulzBot Bio. A bioprinting system with such a horny price ticket will naturally ring some alarm bells, however we will safely say it makes for an awesome entry-level machine with out sacrificing any of the core performance.
The whole lot from the traditional LulzBot body to the clear and refined UI format is well-designed, making for a superb bioprinting expertise. Ease of use definitely takes the highlight right here; customers can soar proper in with out worrying about printer calibration, mattress leveling, or any temperamental 3D printing supplies.
So far as print high quality goes, the Bio definitively held its personal. Bar the primary print run, all of our print exams had been carried out efficiently with glorious precision and defect-free floor qualities.
On the finish of the day, now we have right here a really cost-effective 3D bioprinter. The LulzBot Bio is completely suited to universities and analysis laboratories in search of a budget-friendly device so as to add to their experimental capability.
|Construct quantity||160 x 160 x 89mm|
|Machine dimensions||457 x 339 x 495mm|
|XYZ precision||10, 10, 5µm|
|Max mattress temperature||120°C|
|Min layer thickness||50µm|
|Min optimistic characteristic measurement||80µm|