Developing a handheld 3D bioprinter for treating skin burns

Researchers from the University of Toronto and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have designed and developed a brand new medical device: a handheld 3D bioprinter that can bio print sheets of skin to help heal burn wounds.

This device deposits 3D sheets of material, that is made by a bioink, that covers the wound, allowing the burned wound to heal at a much faster rate than normal.

This handheld device was designed as a very helpful solution to speed up the healing process of patients who have wounds with very severe burn marks.

The handheld 3D printer operates by using a roller to dispense a sheet of biomaterial made of a bioink that’s called mesenchymal stroma cell, or MSC. MSC’s are mostly stem cells that distinguish themselves into specialized cell types, but it mostly depends on the type of environment that they are in. Because of this, the MSC bioink helps to restore the skin and reduce scarring.

The heads of this project are Richard Cheng (right), who is an IBBME PhD candidate, and UoT’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) professor Axel Guenther (left). Cheng and Guenther also worked in close collaboration with Dr. Marc Jeschke, director of the Ross Tilley Burn Center, and his own team at Sunnybrook Hospital.

Researchers on this project explained that the reason for this project is because the current method for treating skin burns, called autologous skin grafting, is not as effective when treating full large burns on the body of patients. Autologous skin grafting is when healthy parts of the skin are then transplanted onto the wound. However, it cannot help enough in providing full healthy skin to help heal large burns.

To solve this problem, researchers tested and created this handheld 3D bioprinter, which had been redesigned retested about 18 times since 2018.

Dr. Jeschke believes that within the next five years or so, this handheld bioprinter will make a very big appearance in clinics and hospitals, saying quote, “Once it’s used in a operating room, I think this printer will be a game changer in saving lives. With a device like this, it could change the entirety of how we practice burn and trauma care.”


Essop, Anas. “Researchers develop handheld 3D bioprinter for treating large skins burns.” 3D Printing Industry. 13th Feb. 2020.