The object of the invention is a two-in-one CAD/CAM fabrication system which, by combining pneumatic extrusion (with micrometric resolution) with electrospinning (with nanometric resolution) in the same platform, revolutionizes the way to produce multi-scale and multi-material 3D structures
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies / Manufacturing 4.0: additive manufacturing (AM) is ragarded as the pivotal technology in the latest industrial revolution by enabling the fabrication of customized object with advance features. Therefore, the proposed technology plays a key-role in the manufacturing 4.0, saving time and costs, being decisive for process efficiency for the fabrication of multiscale and multimaterial 3D structures with an AM approach. MedTEch / Biotechnology: the proposed technology is able to process a wide range of biocompatible degradable/non-degradable materials for the fabrication of heterogenous and hierarchical 3D structure that have the ability to encourage cell tissue regeneration, incorporate drugs, proteins, or other desired agents for applications which include tissue engineering, surgical implantations, drug delivery and wound healing. Outside the biomedical field, the proposed technology can be used for the fabrication of biotechnological tools for artificial meat and “cruelty-free” leather production. Nanotechnologies: the proposed technology is an enabling nanotechnological platform for manufacturing a variety nanofibrous structures as useful tools in many biomedical applications such as tissue engineering, drug delivery and biosensing, or in electronics, in microfluidics and in water/air purification.
The fabrication of multiscale (macro/micro/nano) structures using several materials at once is regarded as one of the growing need that could subvert the current manufacturing approaches in various application fields. However, established 2D/3D-based manufacturing process are facing enormous challenges in the field of multiscale and multimaterial manufacturing. To face this challenge we proposed an innovative manufacturing system that combining pressure-driven microextrusion and electrospinning under the same platform will revolutionize the way of 3D multiscale and multimaterial structures are produced.
Current technology limitations
The team identified the 3D Bioprinting as killer application for the proposed technology. The 3D bioprinting as has emerged as a promising cluster of AM technologies to fabricate 3D tissue-like structures consisting of living cells, biomaterials, and active biomolecules for Tissue Engineering (TE). However, no bioprinting technologies or bioprinting-based manufacturing process own the versatility to deposit multiple materials into hierarchical 3D structures at a single print run thus fabricating structures that really mimic the native tissue in terms of structural composition and topography. To this end, the team wants to introduce ELECTROSPIDER into the bioprinting market as a novel, multimaterial and multiscale remarkable manufacturing apparatus enabling the next generation of “bottom-up” TE.
Il 3D Bioprinting è stato identificato come applicazione «killer» per la tecnologia proposta. Il 3D Bioprinting è emerso come un insieme di tecnologie di AM per la fabbricazione di «prodotti» viventi, o non viventi, costituiti da cellule, molecole, matrici extracellulare e biomateriali per l'ingegneria dei tessuti (TE). Tuttavia, nessuna tecnologia 3D Bioprinting ha attualmente la capacità di fabbricare strutture che imitano realmente il tessuto nativo in termini di composizione strutturale e topografia. A tal fine, il team vuole introdurre ELECTROSPIDER nel mercato del 3D Bioprinting come un nuovo apparato di biofabbricazione multimateriale e multiscala in grado di abilitare la strategia “bottom up” per la produzione di una nuova generazione di bioibridi tessutali 3D in vitro.
Our technology and solutions
The object of the invention is a robotic manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology especially conceived to process simultaneously different materials with millimetric and nanometric resolution. It came up with the name of “ELECTROSPIDER” and it consists of a robotic manipulator whose end-effector is endowed with a pneumatic dispenser to deposit materials in a defined 3D space using independently an air-driven microextrusion approach (to fabricate microscale features) or an air-driven electrospinning approach (to fabricate nanoscale features) or their combination.
The proposed technology is a two-in-one fabrication system that will really enable the customers to develop multimaterial and multiscale structures, overcoming the limitations of the common approaches, by taking full advantages of:
Limited purchase and maintenance costs;
Fully automatic and continuous fabrication processes;
Touch control interface;
High accurate, precise and reproducible fabrication processes;
Reduction of manufacturing time;
Manufacturing in a fully control environment (temperature and humidity control);
Compact design for small lab spaces.
The research team is working for the industrial development of technology and patenting aiming at establishing the innovative start-up “ELECTROSPIDER” to sell the technology as for lab research and even for industrial purposes or to offer an outsourced manufacturing service on the targeted markets. However, firstly the team is planning to test their lab technological demonstrator with a panel of possible customers to solicit their feedbacks. After interpreting their opinions the ELECTROSPIDER team should refine the initial prototype to incorporate their concerns and experiences to develop a really fit-to-market product.