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Biomaterials. 2006 Sep;27(25):4399-408. Epub 2006 May 5.

Porogen-based solid freeform fabrication of polycaprolactone-calcium phosphate scaffolds for tissue engineering.

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School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Drop on demand printing (DDP) is a solid freeform fabrication (SFF) technique capable of generating microscale physical features required for tissue engineering scaffolds. Here, we report results toward the development of a reproducible manufacturing process for tissue engineering scaffolds based on injectable porogens fabricated by DDP. Thermoplastic porogens were designed using Pro/Engineer and fabricated with a commercially available DDP machine. Scaffolds composed of either pure polycaprolactone (PCL) or homogeneous composites of PCL and calcium phosphate (CaP, 10% or 20% w/w) were subsequently fabricated by injection molding of molten polymer-ceramic composites, followed by porogen dissolution with ethanol. Scaffold pore sizes, as small as 200 microm, were attainable using the indirect (porogen-based) method. Scaffold structure and porosity were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and microcomputed tomography, respectively. We characterized the compressive strength of 90:10 and 80:20 PCL-CaP composite materials (19.5+/-1.4 and 24.8+/-1.3 Mpa, respectively) according to ASTM standards, as well as pure PCL scaffolds (2.77+/-0.26 MPa) fabricated using our process. Human embryonic palatal mesenchymal (HEPM) cells attached and proliferated on all scaffolds, as evidenced by fluorescent nuclear staining with Hoechst 33258 and the Alamar Blue assay, with increased proliferation observed on 80:20 PCL-CaP scaffolds. SEM revealed multilayer assembly of HEPM cells on 80:20 PCL-CaP composite, but not pure PCL, scaffolds. In summary, we have developed an SFF-based injection molding process for the fabrication of PCL and PCL-CaP scaffolds that display in vitro cytocompatibility and suitable mechanical properties for hard tissue repair.

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