Characterizing the effects of cell settling on bioprinter output

Biofabrication. 2012 Mar;4(1):011001. doi: 10.1088/1758-5082/4/1/011001. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


The time variation in bioprinter output, i.e. the number of cells per printed drop, was studied over the length of a typical printing experiment. This variation impacts the cell population size of bioprinted samples, which should ideally be consistent. The variation in output was specifically studied in the context of cell settling. The bioprinter studied is based on the thermal inkjet HP26A cartridge; however, the results are relevant to other cell delivery systems that draw fluid from a reservoir. A simple mathematical model suggests that the cell concentration in the bottom of the reservoir should increase linearly over time, up to some maximum, and that the cell output should be proportional to this concentration. Two studies were performed in which D1 murine stem cells and similarly sized polystyrene latex beads were printed. The bead output profiles were consistent with the model. The cell output profiles initially followed the increasing trend predicted by the settling model, but after several minutes the cell output peaked and then decreased. The decrease in cell output was found to be associated with the number of use cycles the cartridge had experienced. The differing results for beads and cells suggest that a biological process, such as adhesion, causes the decrease in cell output. Further work will be required to identify the exact process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Cell Line
  • Mice
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Printing
  • Tissue Array Analysis / instrumentation*