Materials as Bioinks and Bioink Design

  • Paula Camacho
  • Hafiz Busari
  • Kelly B. Seims
  • John W. Tolbert
  • Lesley W. ChowEmail author


This chapter summarizes the major concepts and recent progress in the design and formulation of bioinks for 3D bioprinting. Bioinks encompass cells and materials designed for processing by an automated biofabrication technique, such as direct-write, inkjet, stereolithography (SLA), or laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) technologies, with each having its own requirements for material properties to fabricate specific tissue constructs. There are two major types of bioinks: (1) scaffold-free, consisting of cellular aggregates, and (2) scaffold-based, comprised of biomaterials with encapsulated cells. These bioinks can be composed of single materials or blends of multiple components to develop constructs tailored to preferred printing techniques and applications. Key parameters important in material selection include printability, mechanical properties, degradation, biochemical functionality, cell viability, and biocompatibility. Single-component hydrogels have limitations since properties that enhance cell viability and function often contrast with those that facilitate printing of mechanically robust constructs. More complex formulations, such as multi-material bioinks, interpenetrating networks, and nanocomposite bioinks, expand the range of properties and techniques that can be achieved for desired applications. Future directions will demonstrate how bioinks can be optimized and exploited to engineer native-like tissue constructs with spatially and temporally organized biochemical and biophysical cues and tissue-specific cell types.


Bioink design Polymeric materials Hydrogels Cellular aggregates 



This work was supported by startup funds provided by Lehigh University. KBS also acknowledges the support through a President’s Scholarship from Lehigh University.


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Suggested Reading

  1. Chimene D, Lennox KK, Kaunas RR, Gaharwar AK (2016) Advanced bioinks for 3D printing: a materials science perspective. Ann Biomed Eng 44(6):2090–2102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  6. Jungst T, Smolan W, Schacht K, Scheibel T, Groll J (2016) Strategies and molecular design criteria for 3D printable hydrogels. Chem Rev 116(3):1496–1539CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Camacho
    • 1
  • Hafiz Busari
    • 2
  • Kelly B. Seims
    • 2
  • John W. Tolbert
    • 3
  • Lesley W. Chow
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BioengineeringLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Polymer Science and EngineeringLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

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