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Friday, November 17, 2017

Best 3D Chocolate Printers of 2017

With the growing popularity of food printers, there is no surprise that a market for 3D Chocolate Printers. We review the pros and cons of the different chocolate printers that are currently on the rise using our intimate knowledge of chocolate printing.

Model: Chocabyte 3D printer
Why you should buy it: Great value for price
Who it’s for: Beginners with limited or no 3D printing knowledge
Pitfalls: Limited to only 500 units
Price Point: $99
The Chocabyte 3D printer, which debuted at CES 2014, is a marriage of handiwork between designer Quinn Kataitiana and Solid Idea. Limited to just 500 units, the Chocabyte printer is hand-crafted and priced at an astonishing $99. There are currently no other chocolate printers in the market at this price point. No CAD knowledge is necessary as Solid Idea offers a library of chocolate printing templates. Chocabyte runs on a syringe based system which can be purchased from the website. The chocolate must be warmed up prior to insertion and printing. The biggest limitation is that the print area is limited to 5x5x2.5cm. Print times are expected to run no more than 10 minutes. As of currently, the Chocabyte homepage is under construction, indicating a possible next generation in the near future.

Model: Choc Creator V2.0 Plus
Why you should buy it: Very accurate chocolate printer with all necessary equipment supplied
Who it’s for: Intermediate users and chocolatiers
Pitfalls: Software runs on Windows only
Price Point: $3300
The Choc Creator V2.0 Plus is the brainchild of Dr. Liang Hao, a critical member of Britain’s University of Exeter team that developed the first ever 3D chocolate printer. The V2.0 Plus also runs on a syringe based system and adheres to the principles of additive layer manufacturing. The print bed is 18x18x4cm, allowing for a relatively large print size. The max 2D print size 17x17cm and 3D print size of 2.5cm to 3.75cm and height of 4cm.

The Cho Creator V2.0 Plus Package includes the printer, a resuable stainless steel food-grade syringe, metal nozzles, slicing programs and a library of 2D and 3D designs. It also comes with an LCD touch screen that makes it user-friendly and possible to use without a computer. Given the $3300 price point, the V2.0 Plus may be out of the average household’s budget and is likely much more feasible for an industry use and application.

Model: Mmuse Touchscreen Chocolate 3D Printer
Why you should buy it: Quite possibly the most advanced chocolate printer of 2017
Who it’s for: Industry uses
Pitfalls: High price point; prints slower than advertised
Price Point: $4499
Chinese based company Mmuse has created a line of chocolate printers that range from $3599-4499. Unlike the previous two chocolate printers, the Mmuse Touchscreen Chocolate 3D Printer is unusual in that it can print directly from chocolate beans. The Mmuse printer utilizes temperature control to properly melt chocolate beans. The print bed sits at 16x12x15cm. Like all the other chocolate printers, Mmuse utilizes gcode and STL files. The high price of the MMuse printer makes it more of a luxury item, though scaling for industry use can definitely be possible.

3D Chocolate Printing is still relatively new in the market. However, there are many up and coming chocolate printers that should reach both an industry and household demand in the near future.

For more information on chocolate printing workshops in the bay area, sign up here.


New Methods 
A new method in bioprinting has been developed by an Oxford University spin-off company, OxSyBio, that will enable researchers to print and arrange cells in pre-determined 3D architectures. This novel method leverages the use of a lipid coating which encapsulates cells within protective nanolitre droplets during the printing process. Dr Alexander Graham, the lead author and scientist of OxSynBio, demonstrated the application of this technique with human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells and ovine mesenchymal stem cells (oMSCs). He was able to achieve high-resolution 3D geometries in the range of less than 200 microns while maintaining high cell viability. Learn more about this exciting work at their Nature publication – Scientific Reports

New Materials 
In the most recent development, a clay-based bioink was developed and shown to provide improved drug delivery properties. A team of researchers from University of Southhampton and the Technische Universitat Dresden in Germany used a synthetic nanosilicate clay called Laponite to create a 3D printable bioink that supports mesenchymal stem cell growth. The material is combined with alginate and methylcellulose produces properties that make it suitable for bioprinting and drug delivery applications. To learn more about this innovative bioink, check out their most recent publication in Biofabrication

Featured Application  
Researchers at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden reported successful bioprinting with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in a nanocellulose-alginate bioink to create cartilage in vitro. The experiments involved a comparison study between the use of alginate versus hyaluronic acid and their findings showed superior results in the alginate-based bioink for creating cartilage tissue structures. Get more detailed specifics about their research in this Nature Scientific Reports publication. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Pluronic: A “Cool” Biomaterial for Bioprinters

When using r3bel to print cellular scaffolds, Pluronic F-127 has been our favored biomaterialPluronic, also known as Poloxamer 407, is a hydrophilic non-ionic surfactant,[1]  It is also a thermo-reversible hydrogel, meaning that it can change from liquid to solid state depending on the temperature, and in this case, it is a liquid at cold temperatures and solid at room temperature.  

Pluronic is widely used in multiple fields due to its surfactant properties which allow for a lower surface tension between lipids and liquids. In the cosmetics industry, it is used in dissolving oily ingredients in water. Pluronic acts as a cleaning agent to safely remove lipids from the lens films in contacts solutionPluronic is also quite popular in pharmaceutical applications; it provides pharmacists with an excellent topical drug delivery system with a multitude of potential uses and is highly compatible with a large variety of substances. PF-127’s ease of use and steady drug release characteristics demonstrated in both in vivo and in vitro experiments have proven it to be a robust biomaterial for many biomedical applications.   

Pluronic is a stable medium as a bioink in 3D bioprinting applications. Pluronic by itself does not allow for sustained long term cell culture growth. However, there are various methods that can increase the biocompatibility and stabilize pluronic gels such as nanostructuring and UV crosslinking.[2] The nanostructured hydrogels have a much higher cell viability with the desirable sets of properties, allowing for the maintenance of cell culture growth. The flexibility of Pluronic’s bioink use enables an easy conversion from introductory cell culture growth to bioindustry applications.[3] 

Pluronic’s unique characteristics have made it a Pluronic’s suitability for cell culture brings great value to bioscience education and research. It dissolves in water, making it easy to dispose of as well. Till today, the applications of Pluronic F-127 are still being explored to unlock the full utilization potential.  

 Contributed by Cecillia Wong

Works Cited 

[1]Stanford University Medical Center (28 August 2011). "Sutureless method for joining blood vessels invented". ScienceDaily. 

[2]Escobar-Chávez, J. J., López-Cervantes, M., Naïk, A., Kalia, Y. N., Quintanar-Guerrero, D., & Ganem-Quintanar, A. (n.d.). Applications of thermo-reversible pluronic F-127 gels in pharmaceutical formulations. PubMed 

[3]Müller, M., Becher, J., Schnabelrauch, M., & Zenobi-Wong, M. (2015, August 11). Nanostructured Pluronic hydrogels as bioinks for 3D bioprintingPubMed 
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