Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany used 3D printing and a technique called multiphoton polymerisation.
In order to print something as delicate and complex as blood vessels, researchers combined 3D printing technology with two-photon polymerization, using laser beams to stimulate the molecules in a very small focus point.
What resulted is an elastic solid material that could function as capillaries for the artificial organs. Since they are artificial, they need to be coated with biomolecules so the body doesn’t reject them.
“We are establishing a basis for applying rapid prototyping to elastic and organic biomaterials,” said Dr Gunter Tovar, who heads the BioRap project at Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart .
“The vascular systems illustrate very dramatically what opportunities this technology has to offer, but that’s definitely not the only thing possible.”
Fraunhofer researchers admit that they’re “still at the dawn of this entirely new technology,” but the technology could be used in creating more complex tissues in the future.