3D Printing in Medicine: Fountain of Youth? BioPrinting Analysis

I attended a wonderful talk put on by GABA (German American Business Association) on 10/11/17 about how 3D bioprinting’s ability to print precise, complex and individual features has opened new roads for medicine.  The speakers shared the current efforts to create organs and tissue and what the future has in store.  The presentation including a diverse panel of six speakers, Dr. Jenny Chen, MD, Dr. Melanie Matheu, Dr. Mayasari Lim, Dr. Nabeel Cajee, DDS FICOI, Tom Anderton, who each explained the impact of bioprinting in industry, academia, education/global outreach, and patents.

Jenny Chen

Founder/CEO of 3DHEALS is trained as a neuroradiologist, and her company is focusing on curating healthcare 3D printing ecosystem. Her main interests include medical education, 3D printing in the healthcare sector, and artificial intelligence. She is also a current adjunct clinical faculty in the radiology department at Stanford Healthcare.  She was also the event’s moderator and lead each Q&A section with each speaker as well as an open panel Q&A at the end.

Dr. Mayasari Lim

Founder and CEO of SE3D, a startup focused on next-generation bioprinting tools for accelerating research and education in the biomedical and biotech fields. Previously, she was a professor in Bioengineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a top engineering university in Singapore. Her research expertise included stem cell engineering, bioprocess design, bioprinting and tissue engineering.  She is greatly passionate about training next generation minds for the future of bioprinting. She currently teaches at the Fung Institute for Engineering  Leadership at UC Berkeley. Her background obtained her Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London and her BSc in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley.  She believes the future outlook of 3D bioprinting will be used for creating personalized medicine, drug screening, tissue replacement and future organ transplant. She hopes to accelerate the future of bioprinting by offering educators an affordable bioprinters, coupled with comprehensive curriculum and laboratory teaching materials to trigger research and exploration.

She began the event with describing the three main ways of achieving bioprinting: laser-assisted bioprinting, inkjet bioprinting, and microextrusion bioprinting.  Below are videos showing the various processes.

Laser-assisted bioprinting

Inkjet bioprinting

Microextrusion bioprinting


She pointed out the obstacles and tradeoffs in the bioprinting process; mechanical properties versus the biological interaction of the cells printed as well as the post-processing of bioprinting.  The process of placing down the cells was the easy part, keeping the cells alive and maintaining their intended purpose in the structure was the difficult part.  There are chemical, physiological, biological, mechanical, and cell to cell interaction that must be monitored.  These factors can be influenced in a controlled environment by adjusting the temperature, pH, humidity, and other factors as well.  This monitoring is critical to understanding how bioprinted structures can be suitable for the real world environment.   She also explained the obstacle of iPS reprogramming factors to make sure the cells had specific tasks to perform when they were printed since it is hard to program the cells to do what they do.


Dr. Matheu

Co-founded Prellis Biologics in October 2016, with the mission to create fully vascularized human tissues and organs from transplantation. She orchestrated a cross-pollution solution of laser technology at the center of her Ph.D. thesis with biology to creating the tiny blood vessels, known as microvasculature, necessary for tissue engineering applications. Without microvasculature, organs are starved of oxygen and nutrients.  Dr. Matheu brings her multi-disciplinary experience in specialized laser microscopy, cell biology, physiology, and biophysics to build microvasculature and additional layers of tissue with near instantaneous speeds and single-cell precision.

Consumer grade bioprinters do not have the resolution to print microvasculatures required for tissues and organs.  They have a high resolution holographic 3D laser that very similar to 3D lithography.  Hopefully, in the near future, consumer-grade bioprinters will be able to reach the resolution and precision needed to create the tiny blood vessels and Prellis’s process becomes more streamlined so they can make a dent in the global organ shortage.

Here is a gif from their website: https://www.prellisbio.com/ showing the process


Dr. Nabeel Cajee

Dr. Cajee is a comprehensive dentist with an interest in advancing implant prosthodontics as a clinician, innovator, and educator. Dr. Cajee is a member of the faculty at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco and the Dental Ambassador of 3DHeals. He is a recognized Fellow of the International Congress of Oral lmplantologists and the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics.  He also spent time researching in the Pacific Angiogenesis Laboratory. Dr. Cajee hopes 3D/Bioprinting will unlock creative and deliverable therapies for better patient outcomes.
He highlighted the FDA’s clearance for implantable 3D printed titanium may allow his practices to eliminate inventory of stock implants and parts and create personal products to the patient’s need.  He emphasized dental technology is transitioning from closed systems of technology that is formulaic in process to open systems which may unlock creativity and lower costs; he believes 3D Printing and Bioprinting (in-time) will open up possibilities to advance dental treatments and expand access to care.  He also noted the use of platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) in many dental surgical procedures such as tooth extractions, dental implant surgery, and bone and gum augmentation. Dr. Cajee has documented cases of patient’s not needing to take medications after tooth extractions and implant surgeries due to the accelerating healing properties of PRF.
With PRF,  fibrin, growth factors, and white blood cells are taken from the patient blood.  Since they are from the patients own blood, they are not rejected from the body, rather speed up the healing. The process is the blood is drawn before the procedure normally while the patient is getting numb for the surgery. The blood is then put into a centrifuge at 2700 rpms for 13minutes. After 13 minutes, the blood is separated into three layers – 1) clear liquid or plasma layer 2) red layer rich in red blood cells  3) yellow thick layer which is the PRF layer.
You may visit his talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsyVGYVcl24
Visit his website here: https://www.drcajee.co/about-dr-cajee &  Instagram @drcajee

Tom Anderton

Tom is currently at Squire Patton Boggs, he was formerly General Counsel, Secretary at Zonare Medical Systems and Vice President, Intellectual Property & Legal Affairs at Presidio Pharmaceuticals where he oversaw the legal function at Presidio. Before Presidio, he was the Associate General Counsel and Chief Patent Counsel at Monogram Biosciences, Inc., where he built Monogram’s IP portfolio.  In the talk, he shared the history of patents related to 3D printing and bioprinting, the expiration of important patents in the additive manufacturing industry after 2009 have enabled the expansion of 3D printing into many different technology areas.

In Summary

While 3D printing is well underway for dental and prosthetics, significantly reducing time and costs of production, one of the most exciting developments is the possibility for bioprinting of tissue and organs.  It will be interesting to see how bioprinting further impacts industry, academia, education/global outreach, and patents.


Senior Capstone Project

This is a summary and reflection about a medical device for reducing bone loss in a zero gravity environment in my Senior Capstone class.  Kimberli Graham, Jake Yraceburu, Isaac Need, and I composed the Under Pressure Team. 

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Junior Capstone Project


This is a summary and reflection about creating a purely mechanical artificial heart in my Junior Capstone class.  Kimberli Graham, Adam Goodwin, Isaac Need, and I finished first place award for our project.

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Lessons Learned Working at Neodyne Bioscience in 2015 and 2016

This is a summary and reflection of my work at Neodyne Bioscience in 2015 and 2016.  Not only did I become a project manager on R&D project, but I also worked on several Operations and Quality Assurance projects that involved transforming a CAD file on the computer screen into a feasible product in the customer’s hands. I came away with a better understanding of system thinking and producing medical devices.

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It takes a village of mentors to raise an intern

As I’m wrapping up my internship this summer
I thank the following people for teaching me along the way:
My parents, Hider Mock, Francis Adanza, John Zepeda, Ian Price, Jeremy Pruitt, Ben Simon-Thomas, and the numerous teachers at King’s Academy.

These are 10 of the many important things I have learned

1 Never eat lunch alone, as the most important value to obtain from an internship is developing relationship with people who work in the field you hope to jump into. I would say getting to know the people is more important than getting the right work experience.

2 Build the relationship before you need it. Easier said than done. Few realize that compromise is when both parties give more than 50%.

3 Whenever there is a process involving multiple people it is very important to see what their personal checklist or the things they look for at their step of the process. For example one person considered he or she is done when X & Y is done, but the next person will consider starting when X, Y, and Z are done; there might be a company policy or a way of doing things, but there can be an preferred, hearsay procedure that people might have.

4 I have found that when I send a brief summary of the topics or questions I would like to go over people are better prepared for the meeting and in effect reduces the meeting time. This is especially more valuable for introverts who typically don’t like thinking on their feet and rather prefer the extra time to prepared.

5 The best way to get another company to either send you information or send you a sample of material is to say that you are the head or VP of a department in the company. However, it’s best that your choice doesn’t exist in the company, but still sounds like a legit, real position. At one of my companies I said I was the Head of Materials or the VP of New Initiatives. Frankly, no one has time to help an intern.

6 At the end of every project or major task take some time to write up a brief summary of what you did, instructions, and three things you would have done if you had more time, resource, etc.

7 A three minute phone number will save you a three hour Google search. The trade off between calling someone or emailing someone is that phone calls are great for getting information quickly, but email conversions are for great for traceability and forwarding that information quickly to a group of individuals.

8 It goes a long way to write the summary after a phone call or conversion with someone and write something like “Here are my notes from our conversion please correct or add else I missed…” As well as, to know if people have read an email put something like “If you have read this far, come see for a cup of coffee”.

9 For an intern the how you do something can be more important obtaining the right answer. If you can show that you walked around and explored different approaches at solving a problem, because some problem’s solutions are really recommendations or options not so much truths.

10 I have come to realize that I don’t have it all together, but together (as a team) we have it all; the goal of the mentor is provide the right skills to do your job to prevent learned helplessness. Another marker for a great mentor is one that teaches the skills necessary to perform his or her duties to prepare you for the next step.

Thank you all again

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4D printing

4D Priniting

Self-Assembly and Reaction

4D printing is printing 3D objects that can assembly into another object or preform a reaction to certain conditions. However, the objects need a catalyst to perform their transformation such as water, temperature, light, or other factors. One major player in this movement, who coined the term “4D printing” and created the Self-Assembly Lab, is Skylar Tibbits. He along with Stratsys’s R&D departments and the Connex 3D printer have made important progress in this field. This video clip of a self folding cube by the Self-Assembly Lab shows what can be done within the field of 4D printing. There are more videos from the lab located here.

He saw what nanotechnology was changing in medicine and he is applying the same idea to infrastructure and manufacturing. He isn’t looking to create smart materials that replace designers and engineers, but rather create “programmable materials that build themselves.” It will be interesting to see more to come from this field.

Related Posts

About the Author

Max Murphy is Mechanical Engineering student in his Junior year at California Baptist University. He is interested in the implications of 3D printing or positive manufacturing for mechanical design.  In the summer he is was an intern with Soundfit, one of the companies that is part of the Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing Hub (BAAM), where he is gained hands on experience with a 3D printer and scanner.  He was also an intern with Neodyne Biosciences working with the R&D and Q&A departments.

Biomimicry With 3D Printing of Shapes and Surfaces


Biomimicry is a approach to design that mimics specific systems or processes found in nature. It has been around a lot longer than 3D printing.  The collage depicts several innovative designs that are directly based on certain properties found in nature.




For example, Speedo’s Sharkskin swimsuit uses a counter-intuitive approach to reducing drag with a rougher surface that slightly increases turbulence. It’s modeled on the denticles on the surface of a shark’s skin that allow for faster movement than a completely smooth surface. The dimples on a golf ball have similar effect.

The slide show, 7 amazing examples of biomimicry, goes through them in better detail.

Also see the slide show titled “14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry”.


Shinkasen Bullet Train

The Shinkansen Bullet Train is another great example of basing designs off things found in nature.  One of the problems with the Shinkansen train was the great loud noise that was created by the friction between the air and the train’s body.
Kingfisher beak and bullet train

“Eiji Nakatsu, an engineer with JR West and a birdwatcher, used his knowledge of the splashless water entry of kingfishers and silent flight of owls to decrease the sound generated by the trains.”
Excerpt from “Shinkansen Train” on Ask Nature


Kingfishers move quickly from air, a low-resistance (low drag) medium, to water, a high-resistance (high drag) medium. The kingfisher’s beak provides an almost ideal shape for such an impact. The beak is streamlined, steadily increasing in diameter from its tip to its head. This reduces the impact as the kingfisher essentially wedges its way into the water, allowing the water to flow past the beak rather than being pushed in front of it. Because the train faced the same challenge, moving from low drag open air to high drag air in the tunnel, Nakatsu designed the forefront of the Shinkansen train based on the beak of the kingfisher.
Excerpt from “Shinkansen Train” on Ask Nature

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This image is taken from “The three-dimensional shape of serrations at barn owl wings: towards a typical natural serration as a role model for biomimetic applications” by Thomas Bachmann and Hermann Wagner, a great article that goes more in depth into the science behind the serrations on the feather.

Engineers were able to reduce the pantograph’s noise by adding structures to the main part of the pantograph to create many small vortices. This is similar to the way an owl’s primary feathers have serrations that create small vortices instead of one large one.”

Excerpt from “Shinkansen Train” on Ask Nature

The designers used what they observed in nature and applied it to the train to solve their problem.

Scott Sheppard‘s blog post, Eiji Nakatsu: Lecture on Biomimicry as applied to a Japanese Train,

Examples from Janine Benyus

Since writing her book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine Benyus has become a major figure in the Biomimicry movement by also co-founding the Biomimicry 3.8 and the Biomimicry Institute. Janine Benyus shares a lot of her thoughts and predictions in her one of a few TED Talk which is a great talk if you haven’t seen it already.

There are clearly a lot examples, past and present, of things that got their inspirations from nature.  It has been talked about a lot in regards to 3D printing because 3D printing offers a very high level of customization during the build process.   There are already 3D printed objects based on nature:

and many more.

“Biomimicry is a combination of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering which looks to nature as a teacher to solve modern human design challenges.  3D printing is rapidly changing the way the world interacts with building and making products, and Biomimicry offers a new perspective on this technology.”
Karen McDonald in Biomimicry and 3D Printing

Biomimicry will continue to influence modern 3D printing design principles; not because it is something new, but an approach that has been already applied to many fields.

Related Posts

About the Author

Max Murphy is Mechanical Engineering student in his Junior year at California Baptist University. He is interested in the implications of 3D printing or positive manufacturing for mechanical design.  In the summer he is was an intern with Soundfit, one of the companies that is part of the Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing Hub (BAAM), where he is gained hands on experience with a 3D printer and scanner.  He was also an intern with Neodyne Biosciences working with the R&D and Q&A departments.

Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing

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As a result of Soundfit winning second place at the Silicon Valley Startup Cup I thought I would take some time to reflect on the time I spent there and the things I learned.  I had the pleasure to work as an intern with one of the companies within the BAAM or Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing Hub last summer.  The hub is a coalition of San Leandro based companies all providing a “non-competing and complimentary” 3D printing service or a product.  The coalition employs a very interesting model for workspaces especially for 3D printing since each company has their own specialized service where they can come together and achieve win/win situations.  During my time there, I was a part and saw a lot of interaction between Type A Machines and Soundfit/3D Wares.  Whenever each company was giving tours of investors or other people they would always stop at each company work area to give each company a chance to briefly explain their service or product even if the people touring had no intent of using the service or product.  This convention enforced the strong sense of community and interdependence within BAAM.

As an intern I got the to wear many different hats at the startup and be a part of teams that directly and indirectly acted with Espen and the founders of Mind 2 Matter, Rod Wagner and Justin Kelly.  One project I was a member of was transforming a product designed for the sheet metal process to be properly designed for 3D printing.  Upon showing the metal designed product to the Mind-2-Matter founders, they discussed with us the various areas on the product that were going to fail if the product was 3D printed as is.  For example one of the insights for the 3D printing design principles was to add bosses to cylindrical features on a vertical wall because a 3D printer’s layer by layer printing process would not be able to make those features.   In just that ten minute, their expertise of the 3D printing process saved that project time, money, and frustration.   Over time I was able to gain domain expertise that earned the trust of the original team, so that even though I was an intern I was able to take part in several of the company’s strategy discussions. Also I was given the responsible for getting the incoming interns up to speed on the company’s procedures and on several projects.

Another great experience was being a part of a pitch in Silicon Valley Cup competition.  It was a unique experience that I haven’t really experienced in school; I learned three things from the pitch: bring a team, you don’t have to cover everything in the set time, and delegate roles to people at the pitch so the speaker doesn’t have to do everything.  Unlike the other companies, we had our whole team there in the pitch which gave the panel a true sense of the company and some of the panelist’s critical concerns were based on the team.  We struggled with the set time limit for the pitch so we all agreed a good strategy that we would employ next time was to use the unlimited time for discussing topics more in depth.  One area that ate up a lot of time was the speaker trying to find the correct slide while talking.  Easily we could have another or few other people to prep the slides for the main speaker.  This balance of duties makes the pitch smoother and more effective.  All of these things were brought up in a debrief we had after the pitch which also is very important to do after the event because trying to recall what things to improve or noticed is very hard to recall days/weeks later.

During my time at SoundFit/3D Wares, I got a sense that this interdependent community at BAAM are all rallied around the goal of putting San Leandro back on the map. It serves as a possible model for other 3D printing technology companies to come together and achieve win/win situations.  There were three different kind of projects that I would work: projects solely with SoundFit/3D Wares, projects with other BAAM companies, and projects with BAAM companies and outside companies.

None of the logos are mine, but I created the map.

BAAM (4) (1)




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My new domain for 3D printing blog posts

This is my new website for 3D printing blog posts:  max3dprinting.com

A blog post about 3D printing and biomimicry should be coming soon

Here are the blog posts that I have done in the past:

3D Printing Tradeoffs and Optimization

3D Printing Evolution Functional Block Diagram

The Next Best Thing But Not Yet

3D Printer Combinations

3D Scanners-Current Limitations

3d Printing IP Issues

Thank you

Max Murphy


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