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Industry

‘Skin printer’ picks up coveted Dyson award

A special device that 3D prints complex structures that mimic the epidermal and dermal layers of human skin has been honoured with one of this year’s much-coveted James Dyson Awards

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Inventors say materials created by the PrintAlive Bioprinter can be used to close wounds of severe burn victims

Named in honour of James Dyson, inventor of the world-famous Dyson vacuum technology, the awards pay tribute to some of the most creative inventions from around the world.

One of this year’s awards was handed to a team of inventors that created the PrintAlive Bioprinter, which is capable of producing replacement skin using 3D printing techniques.   

The project began in Axel Guenther’s laboratory at Canada’s University of Toronto as a MASc project for Lian Leng, before it continued as a MASc project for Arianna McAllister and a PhD project for Leng.

The materials produced can be used to close wounds of severe burn victims to help the recovery process

The materials produced can be used to close wounds of severe burn victims to help the recovery process.

The machine works by placing two types of human cell—keratinocytes and fibroblasts—layer-by-layer into a hydrogel in order to create the desired patterns for the ‘skin’.

Designers of the innovative device say that early tests suggest that the skin’ can be used to reduce the amount of time doctors have to wait before attempting to graft real skin, which is taken from a different part of the victim’s body.

In addition to being honoured with a James Dyson Award, the device and its inventors were also awarded the University of Toronto Inventor of the Year title in 2013.

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