3d printing, DIY, Inspiring, Robotics

Use of 3D printing in science labs

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First 3D printed prototype without guide rails

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Final 3D-printed tip box holder tray with guide rails and springs to tightly hold the tip boxes in place

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3D printed tip box holder with tip box in place

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Our 3D printed tip holder with Andrew Robot

Andrew Alliance’s Andrew, is an impressive little automatic liquid handling robot. For example, my friend who works in a cancer research lab, uses it extensively in his everyday wet lab experiments. One of the problems associated with these sophisticated robots is that they have a very high cost for their accessories. In Andrew’s case, it uses a spring loaded tray to hold a PCR tube/ tip holder box. This tray doesn’t have to do anything other than holding the box in its place firmly. The company priced it over 300£ which is not well justified. If there is anything that is a bit complicated, is the tray that uses the tension of the spring to hold the box in its position. That’s is all about it. It has no electronic component or anything that could push the price over £10, still these companies price it for over £300. Don’t forget the VAT, import taxes, shipping time and costs involved. 3D printer. These reasons lighted up a solution for us here. We’ve decided to 3D print the holder and fix a spring to it. It took me no more than 2 iterations and now we are flying. While it took a little more time than expected to get the spring to function properly. However, I found what I needed in a knit shop- a small railing that need to hold the spring axially. That’s it and the holder is now in my friend’s lab, doing what it is supposed to do, hold the box in its position. It’s funny how such things are so simple and still these companies price them so high. However, with the advent of DIY 3D printers our jobs are getting simpler, reducing the time and costs involved.

What I’ve learned from this little experience is that, many such accessories, like the Andrew’s tip box holder in this case, once we know how to 3D print and design a few simple designs we could make as many of them as possible. We were able to make 3 holders for less than $30 and in no time. 3D printer made this look a kids play project. This little example, shows a perfect use of 3D printers in scientific labs or for printing DIY stuff for your own daily needs.

Credits: Vamsi, for throwing the problem and providing the feedback. Uday, for his help with fixing the rails and springs

 

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ARDUINO, Inspiring, Robotics

Can we 3D print Human beings?

Introduction:

Until and unless, you are hiding under caves, you might have heard about 3D printers. If not, 3D printing is just one step more than 2D printing. In normal 2D printing,  information is printed on a surface (usually a piece of paper).  In 3D printing, we can construct three dimensional objects by continuously printing one layer on top of another layer. Using this advanced technology, we can print plastic toys, concrete houses, custom shaped) chocolates (ah Chocolates :p), cars and even rocket engines. Most of the time, we see hobbyists using the 3D printers to make cool plastic models.

What bio scientists can do with 3D-printers?

They can use 3D printers to print the artificial organs using single (live) cells as building blocks. Recent examples of brain cell, heart embryos, prosthetic skull, and legs are evident of the exponential growth in the 3D printing technology.

That immediately, brings up the question, can we put together the 3D-printeded tissues of heart, brain, skull, skeleton, and nerves to make/3D print a complete animal, even a human being?

Does God permit us to do so?

Most of the religious scriptures tell us that we are all constructed from the basic elements soil, water and air. Bible says 3 elements, Baghadgita says 5 elements and Quran says just 2 elements. So the point is somehow it’s possible to copy the Nature, if not the God.

So can we do it?

Let’s do the math first. A human body consists of 10^14 or 100 Trillion single cells. 50 Million cells die/replaced every second.

Little philosophical pause

That means part of us are die and reborn every day. Can you appreciate the beauty of God’s creation for a moment? How complex giants are we?

Let’s come back to science

Using the current 3D printing technology developed by Prof. Boris Chichkov in Germany, we can print 10^8 single cells per second. That means a complete human body can be printed in 2 hours and 47 minutes. Hold your breath. Prof. Boris Chichkov is claiming that it’s even possible to improve the current technology to print 10^10 single cells per second, we can 3D-print a man/woman in 30 seconds. I don’t know about you, but my heart skipped a beat when I was looking at those numbers for the first time. So many philosophical questions were blowing my mind, and I don’t have answers for any of them.

Why do you care?

Because, printing the individual organs, if not the entire body has some immediate benefits:

  • We can print the organs such as hearts and liver to save many lives.
  • For example, In India 200,000 people need a new kidney every year and 100,000 need a new liver. We can stop people dying due to lack of organ donors.
  • In many cases, like developing countries, organ replacement is a costly affair and it involves many kinds of bad things such as human trafficking. So we can avoid that mess, by simply printing the required organs, like how we buy an injection in a shop.
  • The 3D printed bodies can be used as pedagogic tools to teach biology/anatomy to students. Imagine saving lives of many frogs and rats in scientific labs to learn biology.
  • We can rapidly test the drugs on artificial organs, before going for trails on rats and human beings. It will save serious money and time to develop new drugs.

 

Why do I care?

Because, apart from the above reasons, I am making a syringe pump in recent times. Using that I am going to make a bio printer, not to print organs but to print biostructures such as….I don’t know yet. But why? I am just curious. How? Will tell you soon. Is it my main research? Hell no. It’s just one of my hobby project. So it will take some time to see the pictures and videos of me doing bioprinting.

Take away message:

Yes, it is possible to 3D print human beings, or in general animals (at least in principle). Like any technology, it’s more useful than harmful when used in the right spirit.

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