Assessment of the morphology and dimensional accuracy of 3D printed PLA and PLA/HAp scaffolds

J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2020 Apr:104:103616. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2020.103616. Epub 2020 Jan 7.


Introduction: In complex clinical conditions when physiological bone regeneration is insufficient, there is a need to develop synthetic material-based scaffolds. The morphologic properties of porous scaffolds are of crucial importance. The dimensional accuracy of 3D printed scaffolds can be affected by a variety of factors.

Materials and methods: Three groups of 3D printed scaffolds were investigated: PLA1 (pure polylactic acid) printed with an FDM Ultimaker Original printer, PLA2 and composite PLA/hydroxyapatite (PLA/HAp) scaffolds printed with a Pharaoh XD 20. PLA/HAp filament was created with hot-melt extrusion (HME) equipment. The morphology of the prepared scaffolds was investigated with SEM, micro-CT and superimposition techniques, gravimetric and liquid displacement methods.

Results: Layer heights of PLA1 scaffolds varied the most. PLA1 scaffold volume statistically significantly differed from PLA2 (p < 0.001) and PLA/HAp (p < 0.01) groups. Filament composition had no effect on the volumes of the scaffolds printed with the Pharaoh XD 20 printer (p > 0.05). The total porosity of printed PLA/HAp scaffolds deviated the least from the original STL model.

Conclusions: This study showed that PLA/10% HAp filament fabricated with HME and printed with FFF 3D printer produced equal or even better accuracy of printed scaffolds than scaffolds printed with pure PLA filament. Further research is needed to analyze the effect of HAp on 3D scaffold morphology, accuracy, mechanical and biologic properties.

Keywords: Hot-melt extrusion; Scaffold morphology; Superimposition of scaffold volume; Three-dimensional printing; X-ray microtomography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Durapatite*
  • Polyesters
  • Porosity
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds*


  • Polyesters
  • Durapatite