Open-source three-dimensional printing of biodegradable polymer scaffolds for tissue engineering
The fabrication of scaffolds for tissue engineering requires elements of customization depending on the application and is often limited due to the flexibility of the processing technique. This investigation seeks to address this obstacle by utilizing an open-source three-dimensional printing (3DP) system that allows vast customizability and facilitates reproduction of experiments. The effects of processing parameters on printed poly(ε-caprolactone) scaffolds with uniform and gradient pore architectures have been characterized with respect to fiber and pore morphology and mechanical properties. The results demonstrate the ability to tailor the fiber diameter, pore size, and porosity through modification of pressure, printing speed, and programmed fiber spacing. A model was also used to predict the compressive mechanical properties of uniform and gradient scaffolds, and it was found that modulus and yield strength declined with increasing porosity. The use of open-source 3DP technologies for printing tissue-engineering scaffolds provides a flexible system that can be readily modified at a low cost and is supported by community documentation. In this manner, the 3DP system is more accessible to the scientific community, which further facilitates the translation of these technologies toward successful tissue-engineering strategies.