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Characterisation of the surface structure of 3D printed scaffolds for cell infiltration and surgical suturing

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posted on 20.09.2017, 10:03 by Laura Ruiz-Cantu, Andy GleadallAndy Gleadall, Callum Faris, Joel Segal, Kevin Shakesheff, Jing Yang
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd. 3D printing is of great interest for tissue engineering scaffolds due to the ability to form complex geometries and control internal structures, including porosity and pore size. The porous structure of scaffolds plays an important role in cell ingrowth and nutrition infusion. Although the internal porosity and pore size of 3D printed scaffolds have been frequently studied, the surface porosity and pore size, which are critical for cell infiltration and mass transport, have not been investigated. The surface geometry can differ considerably from the internal scaffold structure depending on the 3D printing process. It is vital to be able to control the surface geometry of scaffolds as well as the internal structure to fabricate optimal architectures. This work presents a method to control the surface porosity and pore size of 3D printed scaffolds. Six scaffold designs have been printed with surface porosities ranging from 3% to 21%. We have characterised the overall scaffold porosity and surface porosity using optical microscopy and microCT. It has been found that surface porosity has a significant impact on cell infiltration and proliferation. In addition, the porosity of the surface has been foun d to have an effect on mechanical properties and on the forces required to penetrate the scaffold with a surgical suturing needle. To the authors' knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the surface geometry of extrusion-based 3D printed scaffolds and demonstrates the importance of surface geometry in cell infiltration and clinical manipulation.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the EPSRC (Grant Number EP/H028277/1) in the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

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RUIZ-CANTU, L. al., 2016. Characterisation of the surface structure of 3D printed scaffolds for cell infiltration and surgical suturing. Biofabrication, 8: 015016.




AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication/published in Biofabrication. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at







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