Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 31;12(1):22652. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-26809-4.
The application of 3D printing to biological research has provided the tissue engineering community with a method for organizing cells and biological materials into complex 3D structures. While many commercial bioprinting platforms exist, they are expensive, ranging from $5000 to over $1,000,000. This high cost of entry prevents many labs from incorporating 3D bioprinting into their research. Due to the open-source nature of desktop plastic 3D printers, an alternative option has been to convert low-cost plastic printers into bioprinters. Several open-source modifications have been described, but there remains a need for a user-friendly, step-by-step guide for converting a thermoplastic printer into a bioprinter using components with validated performance. Here we convert a low-cost 3D printer, the FlashForge Finder, into a bioprinter using our Replistruder 4 syringe pump and the Duet3D Duet 2 WiFi for total cost of less than $900. We demonstrate that the accuracy of the bioprinter’s travel is better than 35 µm in all three axes and quantify fidelity by printing square lattice collagen scaffolds with average errors less than 2%. We also show high fidelity reproduction of clinical-imaging data by printing a scaffold of a human ear using collagen bioink. Finally, to maximize accessibility and customizability, all components we have designed for the bioprinter conversion are provided as open-source 3D models, along with instructions for further modifying the bioprinter for additional use cases, resulting in a comprehensive guide for the bioprinting field.