The term "bioprinting" refers to processes that bring biological materials such as cells, biomolecules and tissue preparations or biocompatible materials into a three-dimensional structure in order to fulfil a biological function.

While the Fraunhofer Institutes ILT, IFAM and IPA are working on the generative construction of improved orthopaedic implants and orthoses made of metal powders and synthetic materials, Fraunhofer IGB develops so-called biotools from biocompatible polymers, biological molecules from the natural tissue matrix and cells for the reconstruction of biological tissues.

In the future, natural, human tissue models should enable meaningful and individual diagnostic and pharmacological tests, avoid animal experiments and eventually also be available as implantable biological tissue sets.

Modification of biomolecules and biocompatible polymers

Chemical modification of biological molecules.
Chemical modification of biological molecules.

Biological tissues consist of cells and an extracellular matrix formed by the cells. The tissue matrix consists mainly of collagen and glycosaminoglycan gels with a high water content, such as hyaluronic acid or chondroitin sulphate. We want to use these biomolecules to modify surfaces and build three-dimensional tissue models.

To control the physicochemical properties of biomolecules and hydrogels, we couple chemical functions such as crosslinkable methacrylic groups, thio groups and benzophenones to the biopolymers and mask functional groups that are responsible for gelling the materials.

In cooperation with the IGVP of the University of Stuttgart, we are also developing pressure- and crosslinkable cell-compatible polyethylene glycols.

Printable bio-inks

Printable (bio)polymer solutions.
Printable (bio)polymer solutions.

In order to make biomolecules available for printing processes, their gelling behavior must be controlled. Chemical modification enables us to adapt bio inks with and without cells to the different requirements of additive processes such as drop-on-demand inkjet printing or pneumatic dispensing.

Hydrogels with tissue-like properties

Biopolymer hydrogels of different compositions as tissue matrices with adjustable biological and mechanical properties.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Biopolymer hydrogels of different compositions: tissue matrices with adjustable biological and mechanical properties.

The tissue matrices of different tissues differ in their composition and in their mechanical and biological properties. We use mainly biological materials to simulate the matrix of different tissues. We develop tissue-like matrices for tissue models. By combining biomolecules from the natural tissue matrix and their chemically modified relatives, we produce hydrogels with adjustable mechanical and biological properties.

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Biological materials for 3D printing

Reference projects

Printable 3D matrices for the engineering of bioartificial cartilage


A promising therapy for cartilage damage is the matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT), in which a suitable material (matrix) is seeded with the patient's cartilage cells (chondrocytes) and then implanted into the damaged cartilage.

Dyna-Implant – Personalized orthopedic implants through biomechanical stimulation of hybrid materials


There is an increasing interest in personalized therapies for the treatment of injuries or age‑related degeneration of cartilage tissue. One solution is the production of individual cartilage implants using additive manufacturing methods. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IGB is developing gelatin‑based hybrid hydrogels that mimic the natural tissue environment of cartilage cells and thus promote the biofunctionality and matrix production of the cells.