Bio-inks include solutions that satisfy certain criteria determined by their interaction with humans. Such bio-inks are used in the food industry for printing on cakes and cookies and often include products involving close contact with humans like the oral bio-ink used to mark sore spots on the gums and inks used to create body art.

In the scientific environment, the term bio-ink has emerged as the use of ink-jet microdispensing has increased in the biomedical field. In this case, bio-ink is a generic term for solutions formulated for biomedical applications that are dispensed by ink-jet. Bio-inks are developed to satisfy requirements related to the physical properties determined by ink-jetting and requirements related to the biological function.

At MicroFab, the deposition of bio-inks started in 1988 with antibody solutions for Abbott Lab’s pregnancy test and has continued with a wide range of biofluids that are listed below grouped per application.

  • Tissue engineering: polymeric materials and hydrogels for scaffolds, growth factors, cells, collagen, cholesterol
  • Drug delivery: bioresorbable polymers, drugs (paclitaxel, taxol, etc.), cells, genes, DNA, proteins and peptides, cholesterol
  • Medical diagnostics and Biosensors: DNA, proteins and peptides, antibodies, enzymes, cells
  • Structural genomics: lipids, proteins

Many of the bio-inks and materials relevant to biomedical applications mentioned above have been dispensed or printed at MicroFab. Some of these were developed or modified for jetting by MicroFab personnel. More details are included in the Microdispensing section.