Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Building and Modifying an Open-Source 3D Printer to Extrude Viable 3D Cell Cultures

Kathleen Thornsberry, Chapman University

Presented at the Fall 2017 Student Research Day at Chapman University.


Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has developed since its inception to enable the printing of various biological materials with tissue scaffolds. In 2004, an online project began to enable 3D printers to self-replicate using minimal extra materials, known as the RepRap community. The overarching goal of this project is to build an open-source RepRap 3D printer (Mendel90 model) in order to make modifications to the print head to extrude functional cell matrixes. This will be done in part by utilizing the 3D printer on Chapman’s campus, consistent with the self-replication model. The first phase of this project was completed this semester, which included extensive research into the method for building the printer as well as possible future directions of this bioprinting project, which includes applications in tissue engineering and drug development. The extruder head was also created as a deliverable, using Chapman’s 3D printer to print plastic parts. Learning objectives of this project include developing an understanding of engineering and software development via the process of building a 3D printer from scratch. The ultimate objectives for this project are to build a 3D printer and modify it to print biological materials.