Medical Devices and Healthcare IT

Watch: Handheld 3D printer prints skin for severe burns

07 February 2020

Researchers from the University of Toronto engineering school and Sunnybrook Hospital have created a handheld 3D printer that can deposit sheets of skin to cover large burn wounds. The printer uses a bioink that can accelerate healing.

The handheld 3D skin printer developed by U of T Engineering researchers works like a paint roller, covering an area with a uniform sheet of skin, stripe by stripe. Blue dye was used for this photo shoot for visibility purposes. Source: Daria Perevezentsev / U of T EngineeringThe handheld 3D skin printer developed by U of T Engineering researchers works like a paint roller, covering an area with a uniform sheet of skin, stripe by stripe. Blue dye was used for this photo shoot for visibility purposes. Source: Daria Perevezentsev / U of T Engineering

The device can cover wounds with a uniform sheet of biomaterial stripe by stripe. The bioink is composed of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). These stem cells differentiate into specialized cell types depending on the environment. This MSC material promotes skin regeneration and reduces scarring.

The team believes that the device is the first of its kind to form tissue in situ. It can deposit and set in two minutes or less.

Currently, doctors use autologous skin grafting methods to heal burns. This requires the transplantation of healthy skin from other parts of the body with a long healing time. Full body burns are a challenge to heal. Full-thickness burns are characterized by the destruction of the outer and innermost layers of skin and they often cover significant portions of the body.

The current prototype of the machine has a single-use microfluidic printhead that ensures sterilization and a soft wheel that follows the track of the pinhead. This allows for better control of the machine for larger wounds.

A paper on this technology was published in Biofabrication.



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