Posts Tagged ‘frostruder’

Making Human Tissue With MakerBot And RepRap

Posted by on Monday, August 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

This month is Space Month at MakerBot1 , so let’s talk about some space-age stuff: 3D printing human tissue, and using MakerBot to do it.

Jordan Miller, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (and a co-founder of Hive76!) had a brainstorm one day. One of the big problems in trying to convince living cells to grow into things like liver tissue or heart tissue is that the cells ultimately die when they can’t get nutrients. The tissues in our bodies have blood vessels to solve this problem, but trying to 3D print a tiny empty space is just hard.

Jordan’s breakthrough was to not even try to print empty space. Instead, make a model of the blood vessel network, or vascular system, in a material that will ultimately dissolve away: sugar. Enter MakerBot and RepRap, and enter an exciting new research platform for tissue engineering. The paper was recently published in the journal Nature Materials.

Important note here. There’s this thing about sugar: it sucks up the water from the air. To keep it dry and intact, Jordan and the team figured they had to heat up the platform. As he explains in this great post at the RepRap Blog, this concept turned out to have benefits for making things on a MakerBot. In 2010 we adopted that team’s model as our first generation Heated Build Platform.

Jordan Miller pictured with his MakerBot Cupcake CNC

The back and forth of these technologies has continued, and Jordan and his collaborators made use of MakerBot in a few ways. The most important thing to recognize is that this work would have been impossible if not for open hardware systems like MakerBot and RepRap. Here’s why.

If you want to squeeze sugar through a small nozzle, you won’t do it quite the same way as you would with plastic. Sugar is brittle and doesn’t shape nicely into a wire and wind through gears. So a standard filament extruder was out of the question.

Light bulb! A hot glue gun squeezing sugar sticks instead of glue sticks would do the trick. Jordan used a MakerBot CupCake (#000233!) to make the custom mounting for the glue gun contraption. Watch it in the video below.

Problem! While they could start the sugar extrusion very precisely, they couldn’t stop it. But the open source community finds possible solutions and adapts them. In 2009, MakerBot released the Frostruder, our take on an extrusion device for materials like cupcake frosting. The idea itself is based on [email protected] paste extruder, but works with an air compressor. Crucial to Jordan’s purposes, it’s able to stop extruding very precisely when the computer code tells it to. Because the Frostruder design is open source, Jordan and his team could easily adapt it to their needs (they needed it to also have a heated nozzle to melt the sugar). Check out the baricUDA Extruder on Thingiverse!

With this adapted extruder, heated build platform, and a lot of trial and error, this research team has introduced a great new way to work with 3D-printed tissues.


  1. since we can’t figure out if we actually invented the concept of Space Month. Can someone help? []
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Video: MakerBot Industries at NYC MakerFaire

Posted by on Monday, October 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

At Maker Faire NYC, people were universally in awe of DIY 3-D printing machines. MakerBot Industries celebrated the release of the brand new Thing-O-Matic by printing and giving away objects, frosting bread, making drawings and playing music with MakerBots. Check out how citizens reacted in this video.

In short? Their minds were blown.

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Turtle Topper

Printable Turtles

Printable Turtles

I’ve noticed a trend at my neighborhood grocery store – cupcakes.  No pun or joke intended, they’ve really been carrying more and more cupcakes and of an increasing variety for the last year or so.  I like delicious baked treats as much as the next man, but really only used to seeing cupcakes in the bakery in time for holidays.

The most interesting thing I’ve noticed about the proliferation of cupcakes is cupcake toppers.  Little plastic designs, sometimes as recognizable cartoon characters but usually as animals or flowers.  What I like about twotimes Turtle cupcake topper is that it was designed as a cupcake topper to be made out of frosting and printed with a frostruder.

Why put a piece of plastic on a cupcake?  Why not just put the object itself directly on the cupcake, in frosting form?  No choking hazards, no wasted plastic, no rafts, and… edible turtles!1

Edit: Twotimes’ photo of the fully printed Chocolate Turtle Cupcake Topper is TOO awesome not to include here:

Sweet sweet turtles

Sweet sweet turtles

Okay, who is going to be the first to print a Harry Potter chocolate frog?

  1. Actually, I like having a printable plastic turtle design too! []
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It may be harder to print a unicorn on this printer...

It may be harder to print a unicorn on this printer...

I love seeing printable versions of MakerBot parts.  Tmophoto just uploaded a printable version of the brand spanking new Unicorn.1

What other MakerBot parts can you print up with your own MakerBot?  Oh, nothing much, just…

  1. Photo courtesy of gis []
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