3-D Printed Material Mimics Biological Tissue
For the first time, scientists have printed structures that mimic the texture, consistency and certain properties of biological tissue. The manmade “tissues” are nothing more than water droplets encased in oil, stacked atop one another, but the scientists were able to construct stable structures that held their form for weeks, structures that conducted electricity and even structures that folded similarly to how muscle cells do.
The researchers used a type of 3-D printer to eject an aqueous solution (water containing some salts) into a bead of oil, which was suspended in more of the aqueous solution. By carefully arranging the droplets, the researchers were able to get them to stick together. In other words “You’re just dropping spheres onto other sticky spheres.” After the “print” was completed, the researchers skimmed off the extra oil, leaving a sturdy, jelly-like structure that somewhat resembled brain and fat tissues.
The research was detailed in this week’s issue of the journal Science.