In the present study, we report on the combined efforts of material chemistry, engineering and biology as a systemic approach for the fabrication of high viability 3D printed macroporous gelatin methacrylamide constructs. First, we propose the use and optimization of VA-086 as a photo-initiator with enhanced biocompatibility compared to the conventional Irgacure 2959. Second, a parametric study on the printing of gelatins was performed in order to characterize and compare construct architectures. Hereby, the influence of the hydrogel building block concentration, the printing temperature, the printing pressure, the printing speed, and the cell density were analyzed in depth. As a result, scaffolds could be designed having a 100% interconnected pore network in the gelatin concentration range of 10-20 w/v%. In the last part, the fabrication of cell-laden scaffolds was studied, whereby the application for tissue engineering was tested by encapsulation of the hepatocarcinoma cell line (HepG2). Printing pressure and needle shape was revealed to impact the overall cell viability. Mechanically stable cell-laden gelatin methacrylamide scaffolds with high cell viability (>97%) could be printed.
Keywords: Cell encapsulation; Gelatin; Hydrogel; Photopolymerization; Rapid prototyping; Scaffold.
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