Fabrication and in vitro characterization of three-dimensional organic/inorganic scaffolds by robocasting
A key issue for the fabrication of scaffolds for tissue engineering is the development of processing techniques flexible enough to produce materials with a wide spectrum of solubility (bioresorption rates) and mechanical properties matching those of calcified tissues. These techniques must also have the capability of generating adequate porosity to further serve as a framework for cell penetration, new bone formation, and subsequent remodeling. In this study we show how hybrid organic/inorganic scaffolds with controlled microstructures can be built using robotic assisted deposition at room temperature. Polylactide or polycaprolactone scaffolds with pore sizes ranging between 200-500 mu m and hydroxyapatite contents up to 70 wt% were fabricated. Compressive tests revealed an anisotropic behavior of the scaffolds, strongly dependant on their chemical composition. The inclusion of an inorganic component increased their stiffness but they were not brittle and could be easily machined even for ceramic contents up to 70 wt%. The mechanical properties of hybrid scaffolds did not degrade significantly after 20 days in simulated body fluid. However, the stiffness of pure polylactide scaffolds increased drastically due to polymer densification. Scaffolds containing bioactive glasses were also printed. After 20 days in simulated body fluid they developed an apatite layer on their surface.