Influence of scaffold design on 3D printed cell constructs

J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2018 Feb;106(2):533-545. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.33863. Epub 2017 Feb 14.


Additive manufacturing is currently receiving significant attention in the field of tissue engineering and biomaterial science. The development of precise, affordable 3D printing technologies has provided a new platform for novel research to be undertaken in 3D scaffold design and fabrication. In the past, a number of 3D scaffold designs have been fabricated to investigate the potential of a 3D printed scaffold as a construct which could support cellular life. These studies have shown promising results; however, few studies have utilized a low-cost desktop 3D printing technology as a potential rapid manufacturing route for different scaffold designs. Here six scaffold designs were manufactured using a Fused deposition modeling, a "bottom-up" solid freeform fabrication approach, to determine optimal scaffold architecture for three-dimensional cell growth. The scaffolds, produced from PLA, are coated using pullulan and hyaluronic acid to assess the coating influence on cell proliferation and metabolic rate. Scaffolds are characterized both pre- and postprocessing using water uptake analysis, mechanical testing, and morphological evaluation to study the inter-relationships between the printing process, scaffold design, and scaffold properties. It was found that there were key differences between each scaffold design in terms of porosity, diffusivity, swellability, and compressive strength. An optimal design was chosen based on these physical measurements which were then weighted in accordance to design importance based on literature and utilizing a design matrix technique. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 106B: 533-545, 2018.

Keywords: 3D printing; PLA; scaffold; tissue engineering.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Compressive Strength
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Glucans / chemistry
  • Glucans / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / chemistry
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism*
  • Polyesters / chemistry
  • Polyesters / pharmacology
  • Porosity
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Glucans
  • Polyesters
  • poly(lactide)
  • pullulan
  • Hyaluronic Acid