Nano Dimension, a 3D bioprinting company located in Ness Ziona, Israel, has successfully tested a prototype for a new type of printer that uses stem cells to produce 3D models. The trial was done in conjunction with Haifa-based Accellta.
The move by Nano Dimension is a major pivot. As the name implies, they have been focused on printing nano-sized components for durable electronics. Calling it a pivot might be a leap in itself though, as this could be a rare effort by a 3D printing startup to expand simultaneously into both biotechnology and electronics manufacturing. Their products depend on a combination of inkjet printing, proprietary software and of course nanomaterials, mainly printing conductive and dielectric inks for printed circuit boards (PCBs).
“3D printing of living cells is a technology that is already playing a significant role in medical research,” said Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension. “But in order to reach its full potential, for the field to evolve further, there is a need to improve printing speeds, print resolution, cell control and viability as well as cell availability and bio-ink technologies.”
Accellta is the biotech expert in the relationship. The company manufactures “reproducible suspension-based cell culturing systems” which were essential for Nano Dimension’s system.
“By enabling high precision 3D bioprinting and differentiation of stem cells into required tissues, our combined technologies have the potential to enable vast areas of development,” said Dr. Itzchak Angel, Chairman and CEO of Accellta. “We hope and believe that this will bring the mutual capabilities and know-how of both companies to create 3D bioprinting solutions that combine a high precision, high-throughput printer with dedicated bio-ink technologies, derived from stem cells.”
There are several competitors in the market: EnvisionTEC’s 3D Bioplotter, Organovo’s NovoGen MMX 3D BioPrinter, RegenHU, Cyfuse Biomedical, Russia-based (and not-so-inspiringly named) 3D Bioprinting Solutions, Regemat3D, the BioAssemblyBot, GeSim Bioscaffolder, and many more.
Several companies in the field have also broken the stem cell barrier. Biopen might have the most advanced concept, which is testing a device that would allow 3D sketching by doctors during surgery using stem cells and other biomaterial. That wouldn’t make the larger printers obsolete, but help real-time improvisation by surgeons who might need material in imprecise dimensions faster than specific printing preferences could be uploaded to a bioprinter. A team at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland is also working on a valve-based technique to print the cells.
“By combining our high speed, high precision inkjet capabilities with Accellta’s stem cell suspension technologies and induced differentiation capabilities led by a world-renown group of experienced engineers and scientists, we can enable 3D printing at high resolution and high volumes,” Dror added.
Founded in 2012, Nano Dimension is run by CEO Amit Dror, CTO Sharon Fima, COO Dagi Ben-Noon and CBO Simon Fried. The company will present at the LD Micro Invitational in Los Angeles on June 7.