Sunflower pollen makes alternative 3D ink – Singapore Researchers Discover

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Nature has always provided humanity with scientific breakthroughs, from car designs to healthcare,
nature benefits all facets of life.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) recently discovered 3d printed ink created from sunflower pollen,
That could come in handy in tissue engineering, toxicity testing and drug delivery.

And why is this important?
The pollen ink can maintain its shape when placed on a surface,
making it an alternative to regular bio-printing ink.
Current bio-print inks are very delicate,

Making it challenging to hold the product’s desired final 3d shape and structure as the bioprinter deposits the ink in layers.
To further prove the use case of their pollen-based ink, NTU Singapore researchers printed a Bio-tissue scaffold that was proven to be suitable for cell adhesion and growth, which is vital for tissue growth.
The team’s results are detailed in Advanced Functional Materials.
The advanced functional materials highlight the edge it has over current bioprinting inks.

The Pollen Research

According to Professor Cho Nam-Joon of the NTU School of materials sciences and Engineering
“Bioprinting has its challenges with ink materials that might be too soft, proving fatal to the final product during printing,
but by tweaking the properties of the pollen, The team developed a pollen-based ink that can print layers with good structural integrity”.

Furthermore, The team proved the use case of the 3D scaffold as a stimulus-responsive drug delivery system.
By including a bright red dye onto the
scaffold, pollen microgel particles steadily released the dye into the scaffold,
By adding an acid there is faster delivery speed, proving the potential for the pollen-based ink as a delivery system
Modern 3d bio-inks are faced with jamming and unstable structure but the pollen-based ink is sturdy enough to retain its structure without jamming the printer.

The team is looking to work with the industry to further refine their method and of course, make their innovation readily available.

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