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Investigation of the Mechanical Properties of Porous Bone Scaffolds, Composed of Polyamide, Polyolefin, and Cellulose Fibers

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The goal of this research work is to fabricate mechanically-robust, porous, and biocompatible bone scaffolds for the treatment of osseous fractures, defects, and diseases. The objective of the work is to investigate the mechanical properties of bone scaffolds having complex internal pore structures, fabricated using material-extrusion additive manufacturing process. The fabricated scaffolds are based on a medical grade composite material composed of polyamide, polyolefin and cellulose fibers. This innovative material referred to as a cellulose fiber thermoplastic composite is not only biocompatible and bioactive, but also radiopaque to show location and bone bridging in X-Ray and Computerized Tomography. 

In this study, the 3D fabrication of the bone scaffolds was based on fused deposition modeling (FDM), which is a material extrusion-based additive manufacturing process. A robust high-resolution method, FDM allows for multi-material deposition of composite materials for tissue engineering applications. However, the FDM process is inherently complex. The complexity of the FDM process can be largely attributed to the presence of complex physical phenomena, affecting the mechanical, biomedical and functional properties of fabricated bone scaffolds. Hence, integrated material and process characterization would be inevitable to identify optimal material deposition regimes for the fabrication of bone-like constructs. In this work, seven bone scaffold designs with complex pore structures were fabricated. Subsequently, the compression properties of the fabricated scaffolds were measured using a compression testing machine. The outcomes of this study pave the way for the fabrication of biocompatible, bioactive and radiopaque bone scaffolds with tunable medical properties for accelerated bone healing. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of medical-grade composite materials for bone tissue engineering.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of material extrusion-based additive manufacturing for the fabrication of bone scaffolds with complex pore structures.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the influence of scaffold design and pore structure on the mechanical properties of fabricated bone scaffolds.