Biomedical printing technology describes an interdisciplinary field of research at the interface between engineering sciences, biology and medicine. The flexible combination and gentle processing of different technical and biological materials using functional (2D) and multidimensional (3D/4D/xD) printing processes is the central research topic. The aim of the work is to research and develop mechanisms, processes and demonstrators that can make a contribution to regenerative/personalized medicine, to increasing the quality of life in an aging society and to the biologization of technology (Green Deal).

Video: BioMedical Printing Technology

From a technological point of view, a comprehensively equipped printer park is available, which includes devices, equipment and systems for functional and multidimensional printing. The infrastructure includes laboratory-scale facilities for basic research as well as pre-industrial production machinery for the highly scalable production of samples.

Functional (2D) printing is based on the planar application of materials with special electrical or biochemical properties. It is used, for example, to produce flexible electronics or biosensors. In multidimensional printing (e.g. 3D printing), materials such as polymers or metals are applied layer by layer according to a virtual model to create a three-dimensional object. This process is used in biomedical printing technology to produce prostheses, orthoses and surgical tools. 3D bioprinting is a special form of 3D printing that uses hydrogels loaded with living cells. The printed structures are subsequently cultivated in bioreactors to mature into biofunctional tissue. The resulting tissues can either be used as in vitro models for drug and toxicity studies or, in the future, as tissue implants to restore and enhance the function of damaged organs.

The focus of basic scientific research is the modeling and experimental investigation of different mechanisms and phenomena for the transport of biomaterials and their interaction with living cells. A particular challenge arises from the parallel printing of multifunctional material composites with different physical, chemical and biological properties. In addition, the investigation of rheological mechanisms and the fluid-mechanical interaction of living cells, viscoelastic materials and fluids during printing processing as well as during static and dynamic culture in bioreactors or microfluidic chips is an important research aspect.

From an application-oriented point of view, the research field is based on four pillars: in vitro tissue models, biosensor technology / point-of-care diagnostics, surgical implants / prostheses / tools and bio-printed tissue replacement. The synergetic overlapping of the described technologies, basic research and fields of application results in three guiding themes that function as lighthouse projects and outline the long-term research vision.

  • The key topic Intelligent Prostheses combines 3D-printed prostheses with electro- and biochemical sensor technology. The sensor technology is intended to enable online monitoring of prosthesis function and its mechanobiological stress (overloading, infections, etc.) after implantation.
  • Bioprinted tissues (e.g. bone or blood vessels) often lack mechanical stability, which endangers their use as implants. The key topic of Biohybrid Implants addresses this weakness. Through the targeted integration of 3D-printed reinforcing elements, tissue implants suitable for implantation are to be researched.
  • The key topic Organs-on-a-Chip comprises the connection of electrical and biochemical sensors and actuators with 3D bio-printed tissue models on microfluidic chips. The goal is to generate tissue models whose function can be controlled and measured online.