In June 2019, Orlando, FL-based nScrypt announced a pilot project with the U.S. Military, the Uniformed Services University 4D Bio3 Program, and The Geneva Foundation for bioprinting in an undisclosed, forward-deployed desert environment, using a ruggedized version of nScrypt’s award-winning BioAssembly Tool (BAT) bioprinter, called the Austere BioAssembly Tool (ABAT™). Another rugged version of nScrypt’s bioprinter was launched to the International Space Station in July 2019, for bioprinting human heart tissue in microgravity.
nScrypt is now launching the nRugged, the first and only precision 3D printing/bioprinting platform for harsh environments. nRugged is a ruggedized version of nScrypt’s digital manufacturing platform (Factory in a Tool (FIT)), which can be configured for 3D manufacturing or bioprinting in harsh environments, and can do both with automatic tool changes programmed into the build. The machine can be outfitted with up to four tool heads, in any combination, for microdispensing, material extrusion, milling and polishing, and pick-and-place, using 10,000+ material choices. The standard machine sports a carbon fiber exoskeleton and 150x150mm heated print bed, and prints 238mm in the X axis, 173 mm in the Y axis, and 152mm in the Z axis, but can be built in other sizes. Optional equipment includes a target view camera (for microscopy and X-Y alignment) and a process view camera (for a live view of the printing tip) for in-process monitoring and control, a Keyence line scanner or point sensor, and a 4 channel heater controller. No external compressed air is required.
The bioprinter configuration can print both biologics and non-biologics. For example, the ABATTM version of nRugged recently printed a scalpel handle and hemostat, bioactive bandages with a hydrogel layer containing antibiotics over a flexible structural layer, a surgical model of T9 vertebrae, and a bioprinted meniscus comprised of live mesenchymal stem/stromal cells and a hydrogel scaffold, in a forward-deployed desert environment, in successive builds with automatic tool changes and a broad palette of materials.
Setting up the nRugged printer is almost instantaneous. Its integral packing crate on wheels allows the user to roll the machine to where it is needed, remove the crate lid, plug together the printer, battery case, and electronics case, and start printing. Calibration is automatic and near instantaneous.
According to Dr. Ken Church, nScrypt’s CEO: nRugged is so much more than a 3D printer. Because it is a version of our Factory in a Tool, it solves the problem of building a precision product, not just a part, and does it in harsh environments. For example, a complete electronic device or a bioactive bandage can be digitally manufactured in the same machine. The real advantage of this tough machine is mobility, rapid mobility, while maintaining precision. No crate, no riggers, no heavy equipment movers, no technicians to set it up and calibrate. Roll it into position, remove the top, plug it together, and start printing. Move it again and start printing right away. And again, with precision.
Can the machine print while it is actually moving? Ken Church says: Obviously this is not ideal, but the answer is yes. The nRugged solves the problem of precision 3D printing or bioprinting in a harsh environment, like on a Navy ship in rough waters or on the back of a trailer.
The nRugged runs on 24-28VDC power or 100-240VAC power and can run for up to 48 hours with the battery option, which can be solar charged. The machine and integral crate, which weigh about 220 lbs. (depending on the configuration and options), can be lifted and moved by 3-4 people and pushed by one person.
When will the nRugged be available? Ken Church says: It’s available for sale now. We plan to roll it into the building at Formnext if they’ll let us.
Orlando, Florida-based nScrypt designs and manufactures award-winning, next-generation, high-precision microdispensing and Direct Digital Manufacturing equipment and solutions for industrial applications, with unmatched accuracy and flexibility. Serving the printed electronics, electronics packaging, solar cell metallization, communications, printed antenna, life science, chemical/pharmaceutical, defense, space, and 3D printing industries, our equipment and solutions are widely used by the military, academic and research institutes, government agencies and national labs, and private companies. The nScrypt BAT Series Bioprinter, which won the 2003 R&D 100 award, launched to the International Space Station in July 2019. www.nScrypt.com.