Scientists at NTU Singapore have found a way to use sunflower pollen to develop a 3D printing ink material that could be used to fabricate parts useful for tissue engineering, toxicity testing and drug delivery.

This pollen-derived ink is able to hold its shape when deposited onto a surface, making it a viable alternative to current inks used for 3D printing in the biomedical field (also known as bioprinting).

To illustrate the functionality of their pollen-based 3D printing ink, the NTU scientists printed a biological tissue ‘scaffold’ that in lab studies was shown to be suitable for cell adhesion and growth, which are essential for tissue regeneration.

This novel use for pollen highlights its potential as a sustainable alternative material to current bioprinting inks, said team of scientists. These findings could also open new doors to customised flexible membranes that fit the human skin’s contours exactly, such as wound dressing patches or facial masks, they added.

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