The precise science of tissue engineering requires the ability to produce fabricated extracellular matrices – or scaffolds – with reproducible, high-resolution features. However, most conventional scaffold fabrication methods can only produce scaffolds in bulk form with random porous structures. Seeking a more precise and controllable solution that would be effective for their advanced applications, researchers at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, looked for a suitably priced high-resolution rapid prototyping technology. Their goal: to find a solution that would enable them to fabricate molds for scaffolds with channels so tiny they could be measured in sub-microns.
After considering several options, Objet Eden350V 3D printing system was selected, as it proved to be a cost-effective solution that provided the highest degree of resolution with a wide range of materials. The specific nature and properties of Objet’s FullCure® proprietary materials required adoption of an indirect approach to scaffold fabrication. Using the Objet 3D printer, the department is able to create dissolvable molds consisting of intricate channel configurations that represent the negative replica of the entire scaffold architecture. The scaffold material is cast into the mold, and upon dissolution, the mold is removed, leaving behind an interconnected 3D network of channels within the scaffold.
High precision enables innovative fabrication technique
Objet Eden350V system provided the research team with the ability to successfully fabricate the desired sacrificial mold. Using proprietary materials, the team was able to use its innovative indirect fabrication technique to create scaffolds with complex channel configurations. The Objet solution’s ultra-thin-layer, high-resolution 3D printing capabilities made it possible to produce model parts with diameters as small as 1mm (0.039”), with the high degree of accuracy required for tissue engineering.
“We investigated many rapid prototyping technologies and found that Objet’s PolyJet™ technology best meets our stringent requirements for precision and scale,” said Tan Jiayong, PhD student, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. “Once we had established the best technology, we then had to consider our research budget, and Objet Eden350V printing system proved the best fit on quality and cost.”
Quicker development cycle
Another important factor in the selection of the Objet Eden350V 3D printer was speed. The costefficient system enables quick realization of 3D molds within the framework of the department’s research, with early detection and removal of potential defects ensuring cost savings and drastically faster development and production cycles.
Says Chua Chee Kai, Associate Professor, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, “The Objet Eden350V provided us with a printing system that met all of our requirements, allowing us to fabricate high quality scaffolds in a cost-efficient manner. The most significant advantage for us of the Objet Eden350V 3D printing system is the extremely high detail resolution, enabling the fabrication of accurate, complex 3D scaffolds,” says Tan Jiayong, PhD student, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University.