Robot Can 3D-Print Cells Inside a Patient’s Body

The flexible robotic arm uses “bio-ink” to create cellular structures inside the body during surgery.

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

April 4, 2023

2 Min Read

A new robotic arm could be a game changer in surgeries, with the capability to 3D-print biomaterial directly onto organs inside a patient’s body.

The arm, designed by a team of engineers from the University of New South Wales in Australia, can place a tiny, flexible 3D bioprinter inside the body, using bio-ink to “print” tissue-like structures onto internal organs.

The device, dubbed F3DB, is designed with a swivel head to offer full flexibility of movement and features an array of soft artificial muscles to allow movement in three separate directions. The entire structure can be controlled externally. 

“Existing 3D-bioprinting techniques require biomaterials to be made outside the body and implanting that into a person would usually require large open-field open surgery which increases infection risks,” said Thanh Do, study lead. “Our flexible 3D bioprinter means biomaterials can be directly delivered into the target tissue or organs with a minimally invasive approach. This system offers the potential for the precise reconstruction of three-dimensional wounds inside the body.

“Our approach also addresses significant limitations in existing 3D bioprinters such as surface mismatches between 3D-printed biomaterials and target tissues/organs as well as structural damage during manual handling, transferring, and transportation process.”

Bioprinting in the medical industry is primarily used for research purposes, such as tissue engineering and drug development, and typically requires large-scale, external 3D printers to create the cellular structures.

According to the team, in the next few years, the technology could be used to reach and operate on hard-to-reach areas in the body. In the project’s next stage, the F3DB will be used in animal test subjects, as well as further development of the arm to include an integrated camera and scanning system.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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