3D-printing is a powerful manufacturing tool which can create precise microscale architectures across macroscale geometries from various materials. Within biomedical research, 3D-printing has been used to fabricate rigid scaffolds for cell and tissue engineering constructs, where the precise microarchitecture has direct effects on behavior and function of the construct. While 3D-printing hardware has become low-cost due to modeling and rapid prototyping applications, there is no common paradigm or platform for the controlled design and manufacture of 3D-printed constructs for tissue engineering. Specifically, controlling the tissue engineering features of pore size, porosity, and pore arrangement is difficult in currently available software. We have developed a MATLAB approach (scafSLICR) to design and manufacture tissue-engineered scaffolds with precise microarchitecture and with simple options to enable spatially patterning pore properties. Using scafSLICR, we designed, manufactured, and characterized tissue engineering scaffolds in ABS with a variety of pore sizes, porosities, and gradients thereof with a high degree of accuracy. We found that transitions between different porous regions maintained an open, connected porous network without compromising mechanical integrity. Further, we demonstrate the usefulness of scafSLICR in patterning different porous designs throughout large anatomic shapes and in preparing craniofacial tissue engineering bone scaffolds. Finally, scafSLICR is distributed as MATLAB scripts and as in a stand-alone graphical interface.
Authors: Ethan Nyberg, Aine O'Sullivan, and Warren Grayson
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Nyberg E, O’Sullivan A, Grayson W (2019) scafSLICR: A MATLAB-based slicing algorithm to enable 3D-printing of tissue engineering scaffolds with heterogeneous porous microarchitecture. PLoS ONE 14(11): e0225007. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225007
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