Weekly Progress Reports

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March 14


- Researched different printer methodologies (i.e., piezoelectric vs thermal drop-on-demand)

- Attempted contact with T. Boland and other leaders in the cell printing field

Risks identified

- Determining an existing printing platform on which to actually build the device will be difficult

- Key considerations include:

  - How easy will this printer sync with my computer?
  - How accessible are the printer drivers?
  - Which printer is the least sensitive to having components removed or altered?

March 21


- Confirmed the Canon BubbleJet 2100 printer as first platform to attempt construction; reasons include:

  - T. Boland et al. have had success with altering this system for biological samples
  - Claims that the printer drivers are accessible and modifiable 
  - Lack of filtration system (older printers do not have fine filters for ink clumps as many new printers do)
  - Easy mechanism to modify (BJC2100 has one simple paper feed drive)

- Printer ordered from Ebay; due to arrive within one week

Risks identified

- Ebay listing described the printer as "for parts" so it may not be completely functional (fingers crossed!)

- Spring Break is putting a slight delay on things...

March 28


- Downloaded printer drivers from a Canon BJC 2100 to attempt modifications

- Researched printer driver documentation and modification

Risks identified

- Modifying the drivers may be more difficult than previously thought; the only clear method is to back engineer the system from .dll files which will be tedious and an extremely long process

April 4


- BCJ arrived, and cover and extraneous components were removed (e.g., cover and plastic base)

- Built small stands on which to mount the printer head and track

- Evaluated the use of a movable stage (which would utilize the stepper-motorized stage from the PSF lab); opted not to use this method and instead decided to utilize existing paper advancement mechanisms

- More info on BJC2100 Attempt

Risks identified

- BJC 2100 does not sync well with modern OS (both Mac and Windows), making it difficult to manage

- Printer systems are less modular than originally thought, making it harder to actually separate each of the different components and mechanisms

- Which is easier: altering an existing system or building a completely new one?

April 11


- Obtained second platform, Hewlett Packard Office Jet 5700 Series, in order to adapt a more user-friendly computer interface with the printer

- Removed extraneous covering and upper feeding mechanisms in order to minimize the amount of paper touching advancement wheels

- Lowered the platform on which the paper sat in order to increase the distance between printer head and sample

- Altered cleaning mechanism that periodically blotted ink droplets from the cartridge head

- Discussed with MIT-ERs via email and personal meetings the feasibility of driver modification

- Met with James Serdy of Mech E and Z-Corp (http://www.zcorp.com/), a 3D-printing start-up, to discuss the project and driver functionality

Risks identified

- Sample sizes are currently limited to the width of a microscope slide due to lateral distance between printer head and feeding mechanism

- Thick sample printing surfaces may collide with the cartridge dispensing mechanism

April 18


- Replaced ink with new dye to verify new liquid can be passed through cartridge

- Conducted flow experiments to establish how much fluid is required to pass through cartridge before a new liquid would begin printing

- Conducted minimum fluid test to verify that a sample of only 100 uL could function properly

- Conducted drying experiments to estimate the amount of time the printed sample would remain moist in a protected environment

- Confirmed cell culture preparation and grew cells for experimentation

Risks identified

- Potential issues with filters eliminating particles of cell size

April 25


- Conducted fluorescent bead assay with 3 Micron beads to verify that the modified cartridges could function properly

- Imaged fluorescent bead samples to demonstrate that samples were printed in defined patterns

- Printed first cells onto coverslips and verified their presence via fluorescence microscopy

- Printed cells in a density gradient in an effort to optimize the printing parameters (e.g., dpi, etc.)

Risks identified

- Samples appear to be beading up, especially at dots-per-inch (dpi) on glass, which may jeopardize the accuracy of the printed pattern

- Cells appear very light and in varying densities across the sample

May 2


- Experimented with different printing surfaces, using both plastic slides and plastic transparencies

- Verified that printed samples were in fact complete cells and not simply fluorescence in the media

Risks identified

- Drying may occur more quickly on the plastic surfaces

May 9


- Modified a second printer cartridge to print two color (GFP and RFP) samples in adjacent patterns

- Attempted a viability assay by growing the cells in media overnight and imaging after 24 hours

Risks identified

- After being grown, cells may not adhere well or grow well to a plain (uncoated) surface

- Two color imaging is hard to do given existing resources and microscopes available

Note: Much of this electronic documentation has been done retrospectively, taken from actual lab notebook.