Bioprinter… The beginning

A few months ago I decided I wanted to make a low-cost bioprinter, to give myself experience printing hydrogels.

Originally I was trying to decide between a cantilever design and a CoreXY design. The benefit of the former would’ve been its cost-effectiveness and the benefit of the latter would’ve been the speed and accuracy over the standard cartesian printers I am used to.

It is worth noting that, in part due to the pandemic, I have no income at the moment and so I was leaning in favour of building a cantilever printer. When writing up the bill of materials I quickly found that this was going to be rapidly approaching the £150 mark just for the base printer (that I would then be adapting with a Large Volume Extruder), with the mainboard, steppers, and power supply making up the bulk of the cost.

My original Ender 3X cost me £200, and so I assumed that adapting one of those was going to be cost-prohibitive. To my surprise, Creality was now selling the Ender 3 for just £116, and so I decided to order one and change my design.

In this project I am building off of the work laid out in two papers:

M. Kahl et al., “Ultra-Low-Cost 3D Bioprinting: Modification and Application of an Off-the-Shelf Desktop 3D-Printer for Biofabrication,” Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol., vol. 7, no. 184, 2019. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00184

K. Pusch et al., “Large volume syringe pump extruder for desktop 3D printers,” HardwareX, vol. 3, pp. 49-61, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.ohx.2018.02.001

I would highly recommend giving them both a read if you are interested in this topic.