Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) is an injectable, biodegradable polymer that has been used for fabricating preformed scaffolds in tissue engineering applications because of in situ crosslinking characteristics. Aiming for understanding the effects of pore structure parameters on bone tissue ingrowth, 3-dimensional (3D) PPF scaffolds with controlled pore architecture have been produced in this study from computer-aided design (CAD) models. We have created original scaffold models with 3 pore sizes (300, 600, and 900 μm) and randomly closed 0%, 10%, 20%, or 30% of total pores from the original models in 3 planes. PPF scaffolds were fabricated by a series steps involving 3D printing of support/build constructs, dissolving build materials, injecting PPF, and dissolving support materials. To investigate the effects of controlled pore size and interconnectivity on scaffolds, we compared the porosities between the models and PPF scaffolds fabricated thereby, examined pore morphologies in surface and cross-section using scanning electron microscopy, and measured permeability using the falling head conductivity test. The thermal properties of the resulting scaffolds as well as uncrosslinked PPF were determined by differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis. Average pore sizes and pore shapes of PPF scaffolds with 600- and 900-μm pores were similar to those of CAD models, but they depended on directions in those with 300-μm pores. Porosity and permeability of PPF scaffolds decreased as the number of closed pores in original models increased, particularly when the pore size was 300 μm as the result of low porosity and pore occlusion. These results show that 3D printing and injection molding technique can be applied to crosslinkable polymers to fabricate 3D porous scaffolds with controlled pore structures, porosity, and permeability using their CAD models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology