Materials science & engineering. C, Materials for biological applications

3D printing of porous hydroxyapatite scaffolds intended for use in bone tissue engineering applications.

PMID 25492194


A systematic characterisation of bone tissue scaffolds fabricated via 3D printing from hydroxyapatite (HA) and poly(vinyl)alcohol (PVOH) composite powders is presented. Flowability of HA:PVOH precursor materials was observed to affect mechanical stability, microstructure and porosity of 3D printed scaffolds. Anisotropic behaviour of constructs and part failure at the boundaries of interlayer bonds was highlighted by compressive strength testing. A trade-off between the ability to facilitate removal of PVOH thermal degradation products during sintering and the compressive strength of green parts was revealed. The ultimate compressive strength of 55% porous green scaffolds printed along the Y-axis and dried in a vacuum oven for 6h was 0.88 ± 0.02 MPa. Critically, the pores of 3D printed constructs could be user designed, ensuring bulk interconnectivity, and the imperfect packing of powder particles created an inherent surface roughness and non-designed porosity within the scaffold. These features are considered promising since they are known to facilitate osteoconduction and osteointegration in-vivo. Characterisation techniques utilised in this study include two funnel flow tests, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), compressive strength testing and computed tomography (CT).