Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting has become mainstream for precise and repeatable high-throughput fabrication of complex cell cultures and tissue constructs in drug testing and regenerative medicine, food products, dental and medical implants, biosensors, and so forth. Due to this tremendous growth in demand, an overwhelming amount of hardware manufacturers have recently flooded the market with different types of low-cost bioprinter models—a price segment that is most affordable to typical-sized laboratories. These machines range in sophistication, type of the underlying printing technology, and possible add-ons/features, which makes the selection process rather daunting (especially for a nonexpert customer). Yet, the review articles available in the literature mostly focus on the technical aspects of the printer technologies under development, as opposed to explaining the differences in what is already on the market. In contrast, this paper provides a snapshot of the fast-evolving low-cost bioprinter niche, as well as reputation profiles (relevant to delivery time, part quality, adherence to specifications, warranty, maintenance, etc.) of the companies selling these machines. Specifically, models spanning three dominant technologies—microextrusion, droplet-based/inkjet, and light-based/crosslinking—are reviewed. Additionally, representative examples of high-end competitors (including up-and-coming microfluidics-based bioprinters) are discussed to highlight their major differences and advantages relative to the low-cost models. Finally, forecasts are made based on the trends observed during this survey, as to the anticipated trickling down of the high-end technologies to the low-cost printers. Overall, this paper provides insight for guiding buyers on a limited budget toward making informed purchasing decisions in this fast-paced market.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- low cost