Efficient Fabrication of Polycaprolactone Scaffolds for Printing Hybrid Tissue-Engineered Constructs.

Affiliation

EDMANS Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of La Rioja, San José de Calasanz 31, Edificio Departamental, 26004 Logroño, Spain. [Email]

Abstract

Hybrid constructs represent substantial progress in tissue engineering (TE) towards producing implants of a clinically relevant size that recapitulate the structure and multicellular complexity of the native tissue. They are created by interlacing printed scaffolds, sacrificial materials, and cell-laden hydrogels. A suitable biomaterial is a polycaprolactone (PCL); however, due to the higher viscosity of this biopolymer, three-dimensional (3D) printing of PCL is slow, so reducing PCL print times remains a challenge. We investigated parameters, such as nozzle shape and size, carriage speed, and print temperature, to find a tradeoff that speeds up the creation of hybrid constructs of controlled porosity. We performed experiments with conical, cylindrical, and cylindrical shortened nozzles and numerical simulations to infer a more comprehensive understanding of PCL flow rate. We found that conical nozzles are advised as they exhibited the highest shear rate, which increased the flow rate. When working at a low carriage speed, conical nozzles of a small diameter tended to form-flatten filaments and became highly inefficient. However, raising the carriage speed revealed shortcomings because passing specific values created filaments with a heterogeneous diameter. Small nozzles produced scaffolds with thin strands but at long building times. Using large nozzles and a high carriage speed is recommended. Overall, we demonstrated that hybrid constructs with a clinically relevant size could be much more feasible to print when reaching a tradeoff between temperature, nozzle diameter, and speed.

Keywords

3D printing,hybrid constructs,polycaprolactone,porous scaffolds,tissue engineering,

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