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In Images: Live Cells Printed into Weird Shapes

Printing cells

Printing live cells

(Image credit: LIdong Qin)

A 2014 paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed a new way to print live cells.

Any shape

cells printed using block-printing method

(Image credit: Lidong Qin)

The new method can print cells into any arbitrary shape and spaced close together or far apart.

Ancient method

chinese characters on printing blocks

(Image credit: B&T Media Group, Inc. |

The team took inspiration for the idea from kids' rubber stamps, which are very similar to the ancient wooden blocks used to print Chinese characters.

Cell array

live cells printed

(Image credit: Lidong Qin)

Unlike past methods that use inkjet printing, almost all the cells printed with this technique survive the printing process.

Glowing ells

fluorescent cells in live cell printing

(Image credit: Lidong Qin)

Here, cells printed into an array glow green.

Multiple cell types

cell printing technology

(Image credit: Lidong Qin)

The new method can be used with multiple cell types

block printing

(Image credit: Lidong Qin)

Here, the cells are printed into multiple shapes

Mini-brain networks

A neuron

(Image credit: Thinkstock.)

The method could be used to more accurately capture communication between neurons, or brain cells.

Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News,, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.