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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Build your own bio-printer

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: BioCurious)

Why should medical facilities get all the fun? A new post on Instructables shows you how to build a machine that lets you print your own organic matter.

Companies such as Organovo are working on 3D-printing human organs from stem cells for the purposes of drug testing and transplant, and a noble use of the technology it is, too. But according to Patrik of biotech hacker group BioCurious, the technology used in bio-printing isn't really all that difficult or out-of-reach.

In fact, if you've ever thought to yourself, "gee, I'd like to try and print some extra skin", now there's a way you can muck about with your very own bio-printer. The group has created a set of Instructables to show you exactly how to make your own at home.

Now, this isn't exactly like building a cable tidy out of some foam or a cardboard tube; you're going to need some engineering know-how and a bit of time.

Materials needed are:

  • Two laser-head slider mechanisms with stepper motors (preferably matching), scavenged from old CD drives. Cost: a few bucks a piece

  • One InkShield kit, with ink cartridge and cartridge holder. Cost: US$57
  • Optional: additional HP C6602 inkjet cartridges. Cost: as low at US$17
  • Arduino Uno. Cost: US$30
  • Two SN754410NE H-Bridge motor drivers. Cost: US$5
  • Arduino prototyping shield and/or tiny breadboard. Cost: US$4-21
  • Wires, machine screws, standoffs and enclosure. Cost: Free to $$$, depending on how fancy you want to be.

There are seven steps in the process, but some of them are quite fiddly and painstaking, so it's not a one-hour project — and it will help if you know which parts of a printer are which.

You can find the project on Instructables here.


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