After quite a wait, the FELIX BIOprinter is finally available.
The bioprinting device is a bit of a switch for the Netherlands-based FELIXprinters organization, which has up to now been producing high-quality thermoplastic 3D printers for many years.
Evidently the company leveraged their extensive knowledge of building 3D printers into the healthcare market to produce the unusual bioprinter. In fact, the FELIX BIOprinter is literally built on the chassis of their popular thermoplastic line.
Wilgo Feliksdal, co-founder of FELIXprinters, said:
“The BIOprinter has been designed to be the ultimate bio research instrument in a cost-effective package. It has been developed alongside the brightest minds in the bioprinting sector, and we partnered with training4crm and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme to develop the BIOprinter. Uniquely, the BIOprinter combines dual sterilizable printheads which have a modular design for easy changeovers, and separate heads are available to print different bio-inks at the same time. This integrates different material properties into a single scaffold structure.”
FELIX BIOprinter Features
One of the interesting features of the FELIX BIOprinter is that it is an open materials device. Apparently many alternative bioprinters employ non-standard syringes that must be obtained at proprietary pricing from the manufacturer. Not so with the FELIX BIOprinter, which uses standard 5mL syringes that can be commonly obtained.
The FELIX BIOprinter also includes automatic bed leveling, which is obviously a key feature for reliable 3D printing. Today’s thermoplastic 3D printers now routinely include this feature. However, it seems that bioprinters do not, and FELIXprinters could have an edge over the competition because of this feature.
It also demonstrates the value of leveraging existing knowledge of 3D printer construction in an alternate field. FELIXprinters is simply re-using their current approach, but in a different market.
They explain another interesting feature:
“The BIOprinter also retracts with a highly precise motor for better dosage or materials and more accurate material flow versus alternative air pressure systems.”
Again, a common practice in thermoplastic 3D printers, but not frequently found in bioprinters.
There are two syringes available in the FELIX BIOprinter, which are likely present to allow for the simultaneous deposition of both cell tissue material and dissolvable scaffold material on which the cells will grow into the desired shape.
FELIX BIOprinter Pricing
Pricing is not specified for the FELIX BIOprinter, as they want you to contact them directly for a quote. However, they say the device is affordable and with its open materials approach, could be inexpensive to operate as well. The good news is that it is available now and they have been taking orders.
I believe this is a very strong move by FELIXprinters, as they face a difficult struggle with many competitors, most of whom are larger than FELIXprinters. By opening up a new healthcare market, they are able to exploit an underserved sector that is set to grow strongly in coming years.