Freeform 3D printing using a continuous viscoelastic supporting matrix

Biofabrication 2020 Volume 12, Number 3, Article 035017

Embedded bio-printing has fostered significant advances toward the fabrication of soft complex tissue-like constructs, by providing a physical support that allows the freeform shape maintenance within the prescribed spatial arrangement, even under gravity force. Current supporting materials still present major drawbacks for up-scaling embedded 3D bio-printing technology towards tissue-like constructs with clinically relevant dimensions. Herein, we report a a cost-effective and widely available supporting material for embedded bio-printing consisting on a continuous pseudo-plastic matrix of xanthan-gum (XG). This natural polisaccharide exhibits peculiar rheological properties that have enabled the rapid generation of complex volumetric 3D constructs with out-of-plane features. The freedom of design within the three orthogonal axes through the independent and controlled bio-printing process opens new opportunities to produce on demand large arbitrary shapes for personalized medicine. Additionally, we have demonstrated the versatile functionality of XG as a photocurable gel reservoir to engineer perfused cell-laden hydrogel constructs, addressing other practical biomedical applications such as in vitro models and organ-on-chip platforms.