Coaxial additive manufacture of biomaterial composite scaffolds for tissue engineering
An inherent difficulty associated with the application of suitable bioscaffolds for tissue engineering is the incorporation of adequate mechanical characteristics into the materials which recapitulate that of the native tissue, whilst maintaining cell proliferation and nutrient transfer qualities. Biomaterial composites fabricated using rapid prototyping techniques can potentially improve the functionality and patient-specific processing of tissue engineering scaffolds. In this work, a technique for the coaxial melt extrusion printing of core-shell scaffold structures was designed, implemented and assessed with respect to the repeatability, cell efficacy and scaffold porosity obtainable. Encapsulated alginate hydrogel/thermoplastic polycaprolactone (Alg-PCL) cofibre scaffolds were fabricated. Selective laser melting was used to produce a high resolution stainless steel 316 L coaxial extrusion nozzle, exhibiting diameters of 300 ?m/900 ?m for the inner and outer nozzles respectively. We present coaxial melt extrusion printed scaffolds of Alg-PCL cofibres with ?0.4 volume fraction alginate, with total fibre diameter as low as 600 ?m and core material offset as low as 10% of the total diameter. Furthermore the tuneability of scaffold porosity, pore size and interconnectivity, as well as the preliminary inclusion, compatibility and survival of an L-929 mouse fibroblast cell-line within the scaffolds were explored. This preliminary cell work highlighted the need for optimal material selection and further design reiteration in future research.