3D printed biorobot will enter your gut to track and destroy toxins

By Graham Templeton on November 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

When researchers boast rather casually that making new variations of their invention is as simple as editing a CAD file, we might assume they are talking about a new sort of coffee mug, or perhaps a revolutionary spool for garden hose. Certainly such a simple and cost-effective design process could never give rise to something as complex as a bio-robot, a chimera of industrial gel and living tissue designed work inside the human body. However, after researchers at the University of Illinois set themselves the task of creating just such a robot, that’s precisely what they did.

Using new, specialized 3D printing technology, engineers were able to deposit a bio-friendly hydrogel into a cantilever design just seven by two millimeters in size, seeded with heart cells from a rat. The cells grew into a matrix and began doing what heart cells do best — beating. By depositing the cells in a particular arrangement throughout the structure, and coaxing them to grow in the desired ways, the beats eventually produced controlled forward movement. After a number of false starts and inferior designs, the researchers were able to build a bio-robot that moved consistently — albeit at only 236 micrometers per second, or 0.00053 miles per hour.

Read more: 3D printed biorobot will enter your gut to track and destroy toxins | ExtremeTech.

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