Methacrylated silk (Sil-MA) is a chemically modified silk fibroin specifically designed to be crosslinkable under UV light, which makes this material applicable in additive manufacturing techniques and allows the prototyping and development of patient-specific 2D or 3D constructs. In this study, we produced a thin grid structure based on crosslinked Sil-MA that can be withdrawn and ejected and that can recover its shape after rehydration. A complete chemical and physical characterization of Sil-MA was first conducted. Additionally, we tested Sil-MA biocompatibility according to the International Standard Organization protocols (ISO 10993) ensuring the possibility of using it in future trials. Sil-MA was also tested to verify its ability to support osteogenesis. Overall, Sil-MA was shown to be biocompatible and osteoconductive. Finally, two different additive manufacturing technologies, a Digital Light Processing (DLP) UV projector and a pneumatic extrusion technique, were used to develop a Sil-MA grid construct. A proof-of-concept of its shape-memory property was provided. Together, our data support the hypothesis that Sil-MA grid constructs can be injectable and applicable in bone regeneration applications.
Keywords: 3D printing; Sil-MA; additive manufacturing; bioprinting; bone tissue engineering; silk fibroin; tissue engineering.