Design of an Open-Source, Low-Cost Bioink and Food Melt Extrusion 3D Printer

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an increasingly popular manufacturing technique that allows highly complex objects to be fabricated with no retooling costs. This increasing popularity is partly driven by falling barriers to entry such as system set-up costs and ease of operation. The following protocol presents the design and construction of an Additive Manufacturing Melt Extrusion (ADDME) 3D printer for the fabrication of custom parts and components. ADDME has been designed with a combination of 3D-printed, laser-cut, and online-sourced components. The protocol is arranged into easy-to-follow sections, with detailed diagrams and parts lists under the headings of framing, y-axis and bed, x-axis, extrusion, electronics, and software. The performance of ADDME is evaluated through extrusion testing and 3D printing of complex objects using viscous cream, chocolate, and Pluronic F-127 (a model for bioinks). The results indicate that ADDME is a capable platform for the fabrication of materials and constructs for use in a wide range of industries. The combination of detailed diagrams and video content facilitates access to low-cost, easy-to-operate equipment for individuals interested in 3D printing of complex objects from a wide range of materials.