The new method uses stereolithography and jelly-like materials known as hydrogels to speed up the process.

By  Loukia Papadopoulos

3D printing technologies have evolved at an unbelievable pace resulting in everything from 3D printed meat, to 3D printed houses to even 3D printed guns.

Many 3D printers have boasted that they may be the future of printed organs but we haven’t gotten there just yet. Now, a new study out of the University of Buffalo may just be the key to 3D printed organs.

“The technology we’ve developed is 10-50 times faster than the industry standard, and it works with large sample sizes that have been very difficult to achieve previously,” said in a statement the study’s co-lead author Ruogang Zhao, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering.

The researchers released a seven-second video that is sped up from 19 minutes and that shows a full hand being printed at once. This process would normally require at least six hours using conventional 3D printing methods.

The new method is called stereolithography and uses jelly-like materials known as hydrogels.

“Our method allows for the rapid printing of centimeter-sized hydrogel models. It significantly reduces part deformation and cellular injuries caused by the prolonged exposure to the environmental stresses you commonly see in conventional 3D printing methods,” added the study’s other co-lead author, Chi Zhou, Ph.D., associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.

The scientists also say the method is particularly suitable for printing cells with embedded blood vessel networks. This type of technology is expected to be a central part of the production of 3D-printed human tissue and organs.

The work was supported with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health. The UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences provided additional funding. The study was published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.