Bioprinting and Biofabrication Laboratory
3D inkjet printing system
The 3D inkjet-based bioprinting system is composed of four key subsystems: motorized XY stages attached with a computer-controlled nozzle dispenser, a motorized Z stage attached with a Z-shaped platform where cell-laden droplets are deposited, a container with the calcium chloride solution inside, and an imaging system to visualize the droplet formation process during direct writing. The current research project is "Understanding the Printing Dynamics during Inkjetting of Cell-Laden Bioink for 3D Biomanufacturing Applications" funded by NSF. During inkjet-based bioprinting, living cells adhere with each other to form cell aggregates, resulting in nozzle clogging and unplanned droplets. This project studies the mechanism of living cell aggregation, and the effects of cell aggregates on the droplet formation process during inkjet printing. The research outcomes will significantly improve inkjet printing reliability in regeneration of 3D functional tissues and organs.
3D microextrusion system
The microgel-assisted 3D microextrusion system is composed of three key components: motorized XYZ stages (Aerotech, Pittsburgh, PA), a microextrusion nozzle with an inner diameter of 150 µm and its associated pneumatic controller (Nordson EFD, Westlake, OH), and a container filled with the Carbopol gel. The current project is biofabrication of 3D cellular constructs and post-printing characterization. The living cells are encapsulated within the fabricated 3D cellular constructs. The printing process focuses on filament formation and phase diagrams to identify the optimal printing conditions. The post-printing characterization focuses on effects of encapsulated cells on the physical-mechanical properties and microstructure of the fabricated 3D cellular constructs. The physical properties include degradation and swelling, and the mechanical properties include tensile strength, strain and elastic modulus.
3D dynamic optical projection stereolithography system
The 3D dynamic optical projection stereolithography system is composed of a UV light, a motorized Z stage attached with a Z-shaped platform, a digital micromirror device (DMD) and a container filled with photocrosslinkable materials. Two current projects are based on this system. One project is biofabrication of 3D vascular network. This project focuses on effects of operating conditions on cure depth and cell viability, such as cell density, UV intensity, UV exposure time, to name a few. The other project is fabrication of 3D extracellular microenvironments to study cell-material interaction. The goal of this project is to control the surface texture to guide cell migration.
Cell culture facility
We also set up a cell culture room equipped with a variety of facilities and instruments including a biosafety cabinet, centrifuge, autoclave, water bath, incubator, ultra-low freezer (-80 °C), inverted microscope, fluorescent microscope, etc.