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Project Summary

Project Information

3D printing is a rapidly growing field that is becoming increasingly popular for constructing living tissues. Bioprinters have been used to print complex combinations of biocompatible hydrogels and cell populations with great accuracy. A layer of viscous biocompatible material is applied with one print head and cross-linked with a UV light source. Cells suspended in a bio-ink are then deposited on top of this gel with a separate print head. This technique requires a unique print head for each different hydrogel or cell population, reducing both the print speed and maximum print size, while drastically increasing complexity. 3D printed hydrogels must also be UV crosslinked with a separate light source, which further increases print time and can have a negative effect on cells.

Both of these issues can be solved with the addition of microfluidic fluid routing devices. A single device the size of a glass slide could handle all the fluid routing for multiple hydrogels and allow the printer to easily switch between them. By changing the pressure of individual fluid reservoirs, the printer could quickly switch between different materials without requiring extra heads or switching steps. This technique also simplifies the coding of the printer, increases maximum printable area, and reduces the time spent switching materials. The incorporation of a microfluidic print head also allows the printer to crosslink the hydrogel material within the printhead. In this way, hydrogel material could enter the microfluidic chip as liquid, be crosslinked by a directed UV beam, and exit the printhead as a solid gel. This would allow the printer to create strands of aligned collagen with high precision, which is very useful for cell and tissue culture because it is analogous to how collagen is structured in the body. The addition of a microfluidic chip would also allow the 3D bioprinter to create more complex structures by harnessing techniques like hydrodynamic focusing. Flow focusing would allow cells to be printed within channels of hydrogel, allowing the printer to create more complex structures.

The current prototype has a functioning microfluidic printhead with X , Y, and Z control. The next steps for this project will be generation of a 3D structure and incorporation of live cells into the hydrogel. Further stages of the project could include incorporation of multiple hydrogels to allow for sacrificial components, prototyping nanocomposite gels to improve mechanical properties, and addition of UV crosslinking functionality to the printer.

Project Title: 3D Microfluidic Bioprinter

Project Number: P20677

Start Term: 2019 Fall

End Term: 2020 Spring

Faculty Guide:

Cory Stiehl,

Primary Customer(s):

Vinay Abhyankar,

Sponsor (financial support):

Vinay Abhyankar,

Team Members:

Nicholas Lee

Shriji Patel

Anthony Aggouras

Cody Lentz

Grant Korensky

Charif Elmoussaoui

Luc Chartier

(Left to Right) Cody Lentz, Anthony Aggouras, Luc Chartier, Grant Korensky, Nicholas Lee, Shriji Patel, Charif Elmoussaoui

Nicholas LeeBiomedical Engineering

Chief Executive Officer/ Engineer (project leader)
Shriji PatelBiomedical Engineering

Chief Financial Officer/ Engineer (purchasing)
Anthony AggourasBiomedical Engineering

Chief Operating Officer/ Engineer (facilitator)
Cody LentzMechanical Engineering

Chief Technical Co-Officer/ Engineer (printhead lead engineer)
Grant KorenskyMechanical Engineering

Chief Communication Officer/ Engineer (project coordinator)
Charif ElmoussaouiElectrical EngineeringChief Documentation Officer/ Engineer (project documentation)
Luc ChartierElectrical Engineering

Chief Technical Co-Officer/ Engineer (controls lead Engineer)

Work Breakdown: By Phase

Work Breakdown: By Topic

Use this space to link to live/final documents throughout the project. Your team should customize this as-needed, with input from your guide and customer. The example below will address most of what most teams need to capture.

Project Management

Design Tools

Design Documentation



Presentation & Dissemination





Risk Management

Problem Management

Communication & Minutes

Use Cases


Functional Decomposition

Morphological Chart

Pugh Concept Selection


Mechanical Drawings

Electrical Schematics

Software Diagrams

Facility Layout



Test Fixtures


Test Plans

Analysis Results


Test Results

Design Review Documents

Technical Paper


Imagine RIT Exhibit

Customer Requirements:

TypeNumberCustomer RequirementRankDescriptionComments
MovementC1Move print head in X, Y, and Z directionCritical (9)

Printer CapabilitiesC2Ability to extrude crosslinked hydrogelCritical (9)

Printer CapabilitiesC3Ability to embed cells in printCritical (9)

C4Repeatability of fiber diameterModerate (3)

BiocompatibilityC5Compatible with breast cancer cellsModerate (3)
Cell most likely used for testing
Thermal ControlC6Ability to control bed temperatureCritical (9)37CMust be kept within 2 degrees of target
Fluid Dynamic ControlC7Ability to control flow of printed materialModerate (3)

C8Easily swapped interchangeable printheadModerate (3)
"Easily swapped" meaning by anyone in a timely manner
Printer CapabilitiesC9Prints small prints in minutesModerate (3)

Extrude single strands in a timely manner in the case. The printer is used for demo purposes.

User InterfaceC10Can be operated by junior/senior level undergraduate in Biomedical EngineeringNot Critical (1)

User friendly without an extensive background or tutorial on using the printer.

SpecificationsC11Machine footprint must not exceed 18"x 18"x 24"Critical (9)

Engineering Requirements:

SourceNumberEngineering RequirementUnitMinMaxComments

E1Capable of moving print head throughout entire print space (##X##X##)meters

E2Extruded material achieves minimum viscosity of ##.##+/-## or poisson ratio of ####

E3incorporate cell seeding density of ## per uL

E4maintain 60% cell viability after 48 hours of cell culture.

E5Maintain printing bed temperature at 37 +/- 2 celsius°C3537

E6Print SpeedmL/min

E7Relative error of calculated to actual flow rate is less than 15%

E8Print head change done in less than 10 minutesminutes010

E9Strand diameter should be 2 millimeters at mostmillimeters02

E10Standard deviation of different fibers

E11Able to print constructs of size 10mm X 10mm X 1mmmm
10 X 10 X 1

E12Print max size print in less than 15 minutes.minutes015

E13Automatic shutoff/emergency off switch

E14Compatible with common slicers (g-code files)


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