Published on 14 Sep 2021

Using pollen for 3D printing – Professor Cho Nam-Joon

We are delighted to share the research achievement of Professor Cho Nam-Joon and team, which has been featured in various media.

Professor Cho Nam-Joon and his team have found a way to use sunflower pollen to develop a 3D printing ink material that could be used to fabricate parts useful for tissue engineering, toxicity testing and drug delivery.

This pollen-derived ink is able to hold its shape when deposited onto a surface, making it a viable alternative to current inks used for 3D printing in the biomedical field (also known as bioprinting). Such inks are usually soft and delicate, making it a challenge to retain the final product’s desired 3D shape and structure as the bioprinter deposits the ink layer by layer. 

To illustrate the functionality of their pollen-based 3D printing ink, the scientists printed a biological tissue ‘scaffold’ that in lab studies was shown to be suitable for cell adhesion and growth, which are essential for tissue regeneration.

Professor Cho Nam-Joon said: “Bioprinting can be challenging because the material of the inks used is typically too soft, which means the structure of the envisioned product may collapse during printing. Through tuning the mechanical properties of sunflower pollen, we developed a pollen-based hybrid ink that can be used to print structures with good structural integrity. Utilising pollen for 3D printing is a significant achievement as the process of making the pollen-based ink is sustainable and affordable. Given that there are numerous types of pollen species with distinct sizes, shapes, and surface properties, pollen microgel suspensions could potentially be used to create a new class of eco-friendly 3D printing materials.”


Prof Cho Nam-Joon (1st from right) and his team found a way to use sunflower pollen to develop a 3D printing ink material. Source: NTU 

The breakthrough research was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials, with the title “Engineering Natural Pollen Grains as Multifunctional 3D Printing Materials”. The research article can be found via this link:

Our heartiest congratulations to Prof Cho and team on the excellent achievement!

Media Coverage: