Biomaterials for Bioprinting

  • Daniel X. B. ChenEmail author


Bioprinting is a process of printing bioink in a predesigned manner to build up 3D constructs in a layer-by-layer fashion. Bioink is mainly comprised of biomaterials, living cells, and/or bioactive molecules. Hydrogels are the most commonly used biomaterials for bioprinting because they recreate features of the natural extracellular matrix and allow for cell encapsulation in a hydrated and mechanically stable 3D environment. A hydrogel is a water-swollen cross-linked polymeric network. Based on the source of polymeric biomaterials that comprise the backbone, hydrogels are classified as either natural or synthetic. Hydrogel-forming polymer solutions can be cross-linked or gelled under suitable conditions (e.g., UV light, ionic, pH, and temperature) to form a structurally stable polymeric network. During the extrusion bioprinting process, hydrogel-forming polymer solutions with living cells (bioink) are loaded into the bioprinter and extruded to form stable 3D constructs with the help of suitable cross-linking reactions. Successful bioink bioprinting of constructs and their subsequent applications relies on the properties of the formulated bioinks, including printability, cross-linking capability, biological properties, and mechanical properties. Printability and cross-linking capability directly affect and determine if the formulated bioinks can be printed to form 3D structures, while biological and mechanical properties are closely associated with subsequent applications of the bioprinted constructs. This chapter presents the biomaterial properties that are important for bioprinting, followed by a discussion of the natural, synthetic, and composite hydrogels commonly used in the extrusion bioprinting process.


Bioink Bioprinting Biomaterials Hydrogels Printability Cross-linking Biological properties Mechanical properties 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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