Technological Assessment

Shape fidelity and sterility assessment of 3D printed polycaprolactone and hydroxyapatite scaffolds

Polycaprolactone (PCL) and hydroxyapatite (HA) composite are widely used in tissue engineering (TE). They are fitted to be processed with three-dimensional (3D) printing technique to create scaffolds with variable porosity. The current challenge is to guarantee the reliability and reproducibility of 3D printed scaffolds and to create sterile scaffolds which can be used for in vitro cell cultures. In this context it is important for successful cell culture to have a protocol in order to evaluate the sterility of the printed scaffolds.
This study, published in Journal of Polymer Research [1], proposed a systematic approach to sterilise 90%PCL-10%HA pellets using a 3D bioprinter before starting the printing process. We evaluated the printability of PCL-HA composite and the shape fidelity of scaffolds printed with and without sterilised pellets varying infill pattern, and the sterility of 3D printed scaffolds following the method established by the United States Pharmacopoeia. Finally, the thermal analyses supported by the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy were useful to verify the stability of the sterilisation process in the PCL solid state with and without HA.
The results show that the use of the 3D printer, according to the proposed protocol, allows to obtain sterile 3D PCL-HA scaffolds suitable for TE applications such as bone or cartilage repair.



[1] F. Scocozza, M. Sakaj, F. Auricchio, S. Marconi, P. Riello, C. Ferrari, L. Cansolino, L. Catenacci, M. Sorrenti, M. Scatto, M. Conti. “Shape fidelity and sterility assessment of 3D printed polycaprolactone and hydroxyapatite scaffolds”, Journal of Polymer Research (2021) – doi: 10.1007/s10965-021-02675-y – Open Access article under the CC BY license