Load-Adaptive Scaffold Architecturing: A Bioinspired Approach to the Design of Porous Additively Manufactured Scaffolds with Optimized Mechanical Properties
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Computer-Aided Tissue Engineering (CATE) is based on a set of additive manufacturing techniques for the fabrication of patient-specific scaffolds, with geometries obtained from medical imaging. One of the main issues regarding the application of CATE concerns the definition of the internal architecture of the fabricated scaffolds, which, in turn, influences their porosity and mechanical strength. The present study envisages an innovative strategy for the fabrication of highly optimized structures, based on the a priori finite element analysis (FEA) of the physiological load set at the implant site. The resulting scaffold micro-architecture does not follow a regular geometrical pattern; on the contrary, it is based on the results of a numerical study. The algorithm was applied to a solid free-form fabrication process, using poly(ε-caprolactone) as the starting material for the processing of additive manufactured structures. A simple and intuitive geometry was chosen as a proof-of-principle application, on which finite element simulations and mechanical testing were performed. Then, to demonstrate the capability in creating mechanically biomimetic structures, the proximal femur subjected to physiological loading conditions was considered and a construct fitting a femur head portion was designed and manufactured.
KeywordsComputer-aided tissue engineering Additive manufacturing Finite element analysis Biomimetic design Load-adaptive scaffold architecturing
This work was partially supported by University Campus Bio-Medico di Roma under the CIR Young Investigator Research Grant.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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