Handheld skin printer: in situ formation of planar biomaterials and tissues†
We present a handheld skin printer that enables the in situ formation of biomaterial and skin tissue sheets of different homogeneous and architected compositions. When manually positioned above a target surface, the compact instrument (weight <0.8 kg) conformally deposits a biomaterial or tissue sheet from a microfluidic cartridge. Consistent sheet formation is achieved by coordinating the flow rates at which bioink and cross-linker solution are delivered, with the speed at which a pair of rollers actively translate the cartridge along the surface. We demonstrate compatibility with dermal and epidermal cells embedded in ionically cross-linkable biomaterials (e.g., alginate), and enzymatically cross-linkable proteins (e.g., fibrin), as well as their mixtures with collagen type I and hyaluronic acid. Upon rapid crosslinking, biomaterial and skin cell-laden sheets of consistent thickness, width and composition were obtained. Sheets deposited onto horizontal, agarose-coated surfaces were used for physical and in vitro characterization. Proof-of-principle demonstrations for the in situ formation of biomaterial sheets in murine and porcine excisional wound models illustrate the capacity of depositing onto inclined and compliant wound surfaces that are subject to respiratory motion. We expect the presented work will enable the in situ delivery of a wide range of different cells, biomaterials, and tissue adhesives, as well as the in situ fabrication of spatially organized biomaterials, tissues, and biohybrid structures.