Fabrication of cellular constructs with spatial control of cell location (+/-5 microm) is essential to the advancement of a wide range of applications including tissue engineering, stem cell and cancer research. Precise cell placement, especially of multiple cell types in co- or multi-cultures and in three dimensions, can enable research possibilities otherwise impossible, such as the cell-by-cell assembly of complex cellular constructs. Laser-based direct writing, a printing technique first utilized in electronics applications, has been adapted to transfer living cells and other biological materials (e.g., enzymes, proteins and bioceramics). Many different cell types have been printed using laser-based direct writing, and this technique offers significant improvements when compared to conventional cell patterning techniques. The predominance of work to date has not been in application of the technique, but rather focused on demonstrating the ability of direct writing to pattern living cells, in a spatially precise manner, while maintaining cellular viability. This paper reviews laser-based additive direct-write techniques for cell printing, and the various cell types successfully laser direct-written that have applications in tissue engineering, stem cell and cancer research are highlighted. A particular focus is paid to process dynamics modeling and process-induced cell injury during laser-based cell direct writing.
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