Korean 3D printer manufacturer Rokit is already raising a ruckus for their multi-material Edison 3D printer. And their charismatic CEO, Yoo Seok-hwan, has already begun making inroads with the country’s government. Both their multimaterial printing and government relationship have paid off as the company has just been nominated for a $3 million grant to develop an in-situ bioprinting system for skin regeneration.
Rokit estimates that the bioprinting market was about $10 billion in 2013 and suggests that skin regeneration accounts for 10% of that total at $100 million. Because traditional skin grafts require a great deal of time to prepare, are in limited supply, and may result in side effects that require subsequent surgical correction, the company believes that skin printing could solve these issues. The company would work alongside the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Hanyang University, and the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) over the course of three years to create living tissues suitable for transplant.
I’ve asked the company for clarification about whether they’ve received the funding or if they’ve just been nominated and am awaiting a response. Though EnvisionTEC has long been selling bioprinters, MakerBot has published several stories in which their printers have been used to 3D print biocompatible drug delivery systems, and BioBots has begun manufacturing low-cost bioprinters, I believe that this is one of the first desktop 3D printer manufacturers to look into bioprinting and could prove to be an interesting endeavor for the world of bioprinting and desktop manufacturers in the near future.
Update 7/22/15: I’ve just heard back from the company that they haven’t just been nominated, but are, in fact, participating in this government-sponsored project.