Three-dimensional (3D)-printed scaffolds have attracted considerable attention in recent years as they provide a suitable environment for bone cell tissue regeneration and can be customized in shape. Among many other challenges, the material composition and geometric structure have major impacts on the performance of scaffolds. Hydroxyapatite and tricalcium phosphate (HA/TCP), as the major constituents of natural bone and teeth, possess attractive biological properties and are widely used in bone scaffold fabrication. Many fabrication methods have been investigated in attempts to achieve HA/TCP scaffolds with microporous structure enabling cell growth and nutrient transport. However, current 3D printing methods can only achieve the fabrication of HA/TCP scaffolds with certain range of microporous structure. To overcome this challenge, we developed a slurry-based microscale mask image projection stereolithography, allowing us to form a HA/TCP-based photocurable suspension with complex geometry including biomimetic features and hierarchical porosity. Here, the curing performance and physical properties of the HA/TCP suspension were investigated, and a circular movement process for the fabrication of highly viscous HA/TCP suspension was developed. Based on these investigations, the scaffold composition was optimized. We determined that a 30 wt% HA/TCP scaffold with biomimetic hierarchical structure exhibited superior mechanical properties and porosity. Cell proliferation was investigated in vitro, and the surgery was conducted in a nude mouse in vivo model of long bone with cranial neural crest cells and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. The results showed our 3D-printed HA/TCP scaffold with biomimetic hierarchical structure is biocompatible and has sufficient mechanical strength for surgery.
- 3D printing
- Hierarchical porosity
- Slurry stereolithography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Materials Science (miscellaneous)
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering