High-throughput production of single-cell microparticles using an inkjet printing technology

Tao Xu, Helen Kincaid, Anthony Atala, James J. Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations


In this study, a novel biocompatible and inexpensive method for the rapid production of single-cell based microparticles is described. Using an HP DeskJet 550C printer, alginate microparticles containing one to several insulin-producing cells (beta-TC6) were fabricated by coprinting the cells and sodium alginate suspension into a CaCl2 solution. This method is able to generate microparticles of 30-60 μm in diameter at a rate as high as 55,000 particles/s. Cell survival assays showed that more than 89% of printed cells survived the fabrication process. The printed beta-TC6 cells demonstrated continuous insulin secretion over a 6 day period, which suggests that the printed cells are able to maintain normal cellular function within the microparticles. We show that the printing conditions, such as cell number, alginate concentration, and ionic strengths of CaCl2, influence cellular distribution and geometry of the printed particles. This study presents a simple and high-throughput method to encapsulate single cells, and this technique may be applied in various research investigations, including single-cell analysis, high-throughput drug screening, and stem cell differentiation at the single-cell level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210171-210175
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Encapsulation
  • High throughput
  • Inkjet printing
  • Microparticles
  • Single cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

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