Process-Structure-Quality Relationships of Three-Dimensional Printed Poly(Caprolactone)-Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds

Sam Gerdes, Azadeh Mostafavi, Srikanthan Ramesh, Adnan Memic, Iris V. Rivero, Prahalada Rao, Ali Tamayol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Bone defects are common and, in many cases, challenging to treat. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary approach with promising potential for treating bone defects. Within tissue engineering, three-dimensional (3D) printing strategies have emerged as potent tools for scaffold fabrication. However, reproducibility and quality control are critical aspects limiting the translation of 3D printed scaffolds to clinical use, which remain to be addressed. To elucidate the factors that yield to the generation of defects in bioprinting and to achieve reproducible biomaterial printing, the objective of this article is to frame a systematic approach for optimizing and validating 3D printing of poly(caprolactone) (PCL)-hydroxyapatite (HAp) composite scaffolds. We delineate the effect of PCL-to-HAp ratio, print velocity, print temperature, and extrusion pressure on the architectural and mechanical properties of the 3D printed scaffold. Furthermore, we present an in situ image-based monitoring approach to quantify key quality-related aspects of constructs, such as the ability to deposit material consistently and print elementary shapes with fewer flaws. Our results show that small defects generated during the printing process have a significant role in lowering the mechanical properties of 3D printed polymeric scaffolds. In addition, the in vitro osteoinductivity of the fabricated scaffolds is demonstrated. Identifying quality control measures is essential in the translation of three-dimensional (3D) printed scaffolds into clinical practice. In this article, we highlighted the importance of selected printing parameters on the quality of the 3D printed scaffolds. We also demonstrated that flaws, such as voids, significantly lower the mechanical properties (compressive modulus) of 3D printed polymeric scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-291
Number of pages13
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • 3D printing
  • bone tissue scaffolds
  • in situ imaging
  • osteoinductivity
  • poly(caprolactone) (PCL)-hydroxyapatite (HAp) composites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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