Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Bournias-Vardiabasis, Nicole


Organ transplantation has made great progress since the first successful kidney transplant in 1953 and now more than one million tissue transplants are performed in the United States every year (, 2015). However, the hope and success of organ transplants are often overshadowed by their reputation as being notoriously difficult to procure because of donor-recipient matching and availability. In addition, those that are fortunate enough to receive a transplant are burdened with a lifetime of immunosuppressants. The field of regenerative medicine is currently making exceptional progress toward making it possible for a patient to be their own donor. Cells from a patient can be collected, reprogrammed into stem cells, and then differentiated into specific cell types. This technology combined with recent advances in 3D printing provides a unique opportunity. Cells can now be accurately deposited with computerized precision allowing tissue engineering from the inside out (Gill, 2016). However, more work needs to be done as these techniques have yet to be perfected. Bioprinters can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the bioink they consume costs thousands per liter. The resulting cost in development of protocols required for effective tissue printing can thus be cost-prohibitive, limiting the research to labs which can afford this exorbitant cost and in turn slowing the progress made in the eventual creation of patient derived stem cell engineered organs.

The objective of my research is to develop a simple and low-cost introductory system for biological additive manufacturing (Otherwise known as 3D bioprinting). To create an easily accessible and cost-effective system several design constraints were implemented. First, the system had to use mechanical components that could be purchased “off-the-shelf” from commonly available retailers. Second, any mechanical components involved had to be easily sterilizable, modifiable, and compatible with open-source software. Third, any customized components had to be fabricated using only 3D printing and basic tools (i.e. saw, screwdriver, and wrench). Fourth, the system and any expendable materials should be financially available to underfunded school labs, in addition to being sterilizable, biocompatible, customizable, and biodegradable. Finally, all hardware and expendables had to be simple enough as to be operated by high school science students.

Included in

Biotechnology Commons