Biofabrication is the automated production of tissues and organs to address health challenges in medicine. It uses the principles of additive manufacturing – often termed 3D printing – to combine cells, gels and materials into a single construct that can replace a diseased or injured tissue. The final product is often complex and contains a number of various components including structural and cellular constituents. Biofabrication is a platform technology for a broad range of tissues such as skin, nervous, cartilage, vascularized bone and blood vessels, as well as complete organs such as the heart, kidney, liver and bladder.
Bioprinting is just one tool in the Biofabrication Toolbox – dispensing of cells within a bioink or gel is a well-known 3D printing approach that has benefits in certain situations. Biofabrication, however, is more extensive and complex than simple bioprinting.
Biofabrication is strongly reliant on 3D printing to accurately place cells, matrix and materials in position for tissue culture. These constructs can be used as testing systems for new drug discovery, understanding cell biology and for replacing tissues and organs that are damaged through injury or disease. Using these 3D constructs, better tending to our aging population with minimally harmful surgeries can be achieved, while reducing animal use in research.