How to Use Gelatin-Based Bioinks


In the realm of modern medical technology, 3D bioprinting has emerged as a revolutionary tool with the potential to transform healthcare. This cutting-edge technique allows researchers and medical professionals to create three-dimensional biological structures, ranging from tissues to organs, using bioinks. Among the various bioink options available, gelatin-based bioinks have gained prominence for their biocompatibility and ease of use. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of gelatin-based bioinks and provide a comprehensive guide on how to effectively utilize them in 3D bioprinting.

Schematic overview of samples and experimental investigations of the study.Figure 1. Schematic overview of samples and experimental investigations of the study. (Leucht A, et al.; 2020)

Gelatin, derived from collagen, is a widely used biomaterial owing to its biocompatibility and ability to form gels at physiological temperatures. Gelatin-based bioinks typically consist of a mixture of gelatin, cells, and other additives. These bioinks serve as the building blocks for 3D bioprinting, allowing researchers to precisely deposit layers of biological material to create intricate structures.

Key Components of Gelatin-Based Bioinks

Gelatin: The primary component, gelatin, provides the structural integrity necessary for the bioink. It is essential to choose a gelatin type that matches the specific requirements of the intended 3D bioprinting application.

Cells: The bioink is infused with living cells, which may include various cell types depending on the desired tissue or organ. These cells play a crucial role in ensuring the functionality and viability of the printed structure.

Crosslinkers: To solidify the gelatin and stabilize the printed structure, crosslinkers are often added to the bioink. Common crosslinkers include genipin and transglutaminase, which help create a stable and long-lasting 3D printed structure.

Additives: Depending on the specific application, additional additives such as growth factors, nutrients, or other bioactive molecules may be incorporated into the gelatin-based bioink to enhance cell behavior and promote tissue development.

Steps to Successfully Use Gelatin-Based Bioinks in 3D Bioprinting

  • Bioink Preparation

a. Choose the appropriate type of gelatin based on the specific requirements of your 3D bioprinting project.

b. Mix the gelatin with a suitable solvent, often water or a buffer solution, while maintaining a controlled temperature to ensure proper gelation.

c. Add cells to the gelatin solution, ensuring even distribution for uniform printing.

d. Incorporate crosslinkers and any desired additives, carefully following recommended concentrations.

  • Printing Parameters

a. Adjust the 3D bioprinter settings, including nozzle size, printing speed, and layer thickness, based on the characteristics of the gelatin-based bioink.

b. Ensure that the printing environment, including temperature and humidity, is conducive to the gelation and crosslinking processes.

c. Calibrate the printer to achieve precise layer deposition and maintain the desired structure.

  • Crosslinking

a. After printing, subject the construct to an appropriate crosslinking process to solidify the gelatin-based bioink.

b. Optimize crosslinking parameters such as time and temperature to achieve the desired mechanical properties.

  • Post-Processing

a. Rinse the printed structure to remove any residual crosslinkers or additives.

b. Culture the bioprinted construct in a suitable environment to allow cell maturation and tissue development.


Gelatin-based bioinks have emerged as a versatile and promising tool in the field of 3D bioprinting, offering a biocompatible and easily printable medium for creating intricate biological structures. By understanding the key components and following a systematic approach to bioink preparation, printing, crosslinking, and post-processing, researchers can unlock the full potential of gelatin-based bioinks in advancing the frontiers of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. As technology continues to evolve, the integration of gelatin-based bioinks into 3D bioprinting workflows holds the promise of groundbreaking advancements in personalized medicine and organ transplantation.


  1. Leucht A, et al.; Advanced gelatin-based vascularization bioinks for extrusion-based bioprinting of vascularized bone equivalents. Sci Rep. 2020, 10(1):5330.
For research use only, not intended for any clinical use.