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Biofabrication. 2016 Jul 19;8(3):035004. doi: 10.1088/1758-5090/8/3/035004.

Hydrogel-based reinforcement of 3D bioprinted constructs.

Author information

Department of Orthopaedics, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Pharmaceutics, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, PO Box 80082, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, PO Box 80163, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Contributed equally


Progress within the field of biofabrication is hindered by a lack of suitable hydrogel formulations. Here, we present a novel approach based on a hybrid printing technique to create cellularized 3D printed constructs. The hybrid bioprinting strategy combines a reinforcing gel for mechanical support with a bioink to provide a cytocompatible environment. In comparison with thermoplastics such as [Formula: see text]-polycaprolactone, the hydrogel-based reinforcing gel platform enables printing at cell-friendly temperatures, targets the bioprinting of softer tissues and allows for improved control over degradation kinetics. We prepared amphiphilic macromonomers based on poloxamer that form hydrolysable, covalently cross-linked polymer networks. Dissolved at a concentration of 28.6%w/w in water, it functions as reinforcing gel, while a 5%w/w gelatin-methacryloyl based gel is utilized as bioink. This strategy allows for the creation of complex structures, where the bioink provides a cytocompatible environment for encapsulated cells. Cell viability of equine chondrocytes encapsulated within printed constructs remained largely unaffected by the printing process. The versatility of the system is further demonstrated by the ability to tune the stiffness of printed constructs between 138 and 263 kPa, as well as to tailor the degradation kinetics of the reinforcing gel from several weeks up to more than a year.

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