Scientists at the University of Iowa College of Engineering's Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD) are working on projects ranging from printed circuit boards for automobiles and aircraft to replacement parts for damaged and failing human organs and tissue.
"Electromechanical systems are one of two current branches of the AMTecHgroup," said Tim Marler, AMTecH co-director.
"We want to simulate, analyse and test printed circuit boards and assemblies, because they are used in a wide range of products from missiles to power plants to cell phones," Marler said in a statement.
"The long-term goal of this branch is to create functioning human organs some five or 10 years from now. This is not far-fetched," he said.
The Biomanufacturing Laboratory at CCAD is working to develop and refine various 3D printing processes required for organ and tissue fabrication, AMTecH co-director Ibrahim Ozbolat said.
"One of the most promising research activities is bioprinting a glucose-sensitive pancreatic organ that can be grown in a lab and transplanted anywhere inside the body to regulate the glucose level of blood," says Ozbolat.
While bioprinters at other institutions use one arm with multiple heads to print multiple materials one after the other, the UI device with multiple arms can print several materials concurrently.
This capability offers a time-saving advantage when attempting to print a human organ because one arm can be used to create blood vessels while the other arm is creating tissue-specific cells in between the blood vessels.