Lithoz supplies ceramic AM parts for ISS BioFabrication facility

February 6, 2020

Left to right: Shawn Allan, Nicholas Voellm and Nicole Ross from Lithoz America with the CeraFab 8500 ceramic AM machine (Courtesy Lithoz America LLC)

Lithoz America LLC, Troy, New York, USA, a division of Lithoz GmbH, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, recently collaborated with engineering company Techshot, Greenville, Indiana, USA, to additively manufacture ceramic components used during a mission to the International Space Station (ISS). 

A spacecraft arrived at the ISS on November 2, 2019, with supplies for its 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF). Along with human cells and bioinks for the BFF, the supplies also included Techshot’s tissue conditioning system, manufactured by Lithoz and tested during the mission. 

Lithoz partnered with Techshot to develop ceramic fluid manifolds used inside bioreactors, which provide nutrients to living materials additively manufactured in space by the BFF. The ceramic components are expected to replace the prototype polymer manifolds tested in space this summer, and are currently being ested aboard the ISS for their biocompatibility, precision, durability and overall fluid flow properties. 

The ceramic manifolds were additively manufactured using Lithoz’s lithography-based ceramic manufacturing (LCM) process on a high-resolution CeraFab machine. According to Lithoz, the collaborative work undertaken with Techshot has highlighted an ideal use case for ceramic Additive Manufacturing to enable the production of a special compact device that could not be produced without AM, while enabling a level of bio-compatibility not achievable with polymer AM. Techshot engineers were reportedly able to interface the larger bio-structures with the additively manufactured ceramic manifolds. 

“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Lithoz,” stated Dr Carlos Chang, Techshot’s Senior Scientist. “Their expertise in ceramic processing really made these parts happen.”

Shawn Allan, Vice President of Lithoz, commented, “The success of ceramic Additive Manufacturing depends on working together with design, materials, and printing. Design for Ceramic Additive Manufacturing principles were used along with print parameter control to achieve Techshot’s complex fluid-handling design with the confidence needed to use the components on ISS.”

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