3D printing soft materials into tissue scaffolds

Conventional soft materials, with Young’s module < 1MPa, both hydrogels and silicone rubbers are swollen with solvent, hindering their ability to be formed or molded into structures after their synthesis. The fabrication of covalently bonded and swollen gels into structured mesoscopic composite architectures of dimensions from 10 to 1000 micrometer is a persistent and critical problem in medical research and in particular tissue engineering. Recently, 3D printing has emerged as a popular and facile method to structure materials on these dimensions with ease. You will build a high resolution 3D printer that can print small scale finely detailed structures which will be used as tissue scaffolds based on a recent funded Veni grant through NWO. The printing materials are both structural biodegradable materials such as polycaprolactone and biocompatible ultrasoft rubbers which exploit non-covalent thermoplastic crosslinking schemes, similar to that of the polymer with makes up LEGO block. By patterning these hard and soft polymers in 3D, you will make a crucial step toward employing them as a suitable biomaterial scaffold with both a stiff degradable structure and a soft substrate which promotes cell culture.

Build a high resolution 3D printer which is capable of building composite scaffolds from both stiff biodegrable and soft biocompatible polymers.
Build a high resolution 3D printer which is capable of building composite scaffolds from both stiff biodegrable and soft biocompatible polymers.

TASKS

  • Build a high resolution 3D printer.
  • Develop software to control the 3D printer and print composite scaffold designs.
  • Test degradability and structural integrity of the scaffold.

METHODS

  • Design and fabrication.
  • Python/Matlab/LabView software development.