3D tissue culture substrates produced by microthermoforming of pre-processed polymer films
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We describe a new technology based on thermoforming as a microfabrication process. It significantly enhances the tailoring of polymers for three dimensional tissue engineering purposes since for the first time highly resolved surface and bulk modifications prior to a microstructuring process can be realised. In contrast to typical micro moulding techniques, the melting phase is avoided and thus allows the forming of pre-processed polymer films. The polymer is formed in a thermoelastic state without loss of material coherence. Therefore, previously generated modifications can be preserved. To prove the feasibility of our newly developed technique, so called SMART = Substrate Modification And Replication by Thermoforming, polymer films treated by various polymer modification methods, like UV-based patterned films, and films modified by the bombardment with energetic heavy ions, were post-processed by microthermoforming. The preservation of locally applied specific surface and bulk features was demonstrated e.g. by the selective adhesion of cells to patterned microcavity walls.
KeywordsMicrothermoforming Organotypic cell culture Ion track technology Polymer modification Surface patterning Smart
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