3D Printing Technology Applied to Tissue Scaffolds
Until recently, tissue-engineered scaffolds have been produced by conventional fabrication methods such as particulate leaching, fiber bonding, solvent casting, phase separation/inversion, and freeze-drying. However, these methods are not satisfactory in terms of 3D freeform fabrication of the inner/outer architecture and the control of pores, porosity, and interconnectivity. Lately, to analyze and realize a 3D tissue environment, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) have been developed to design and fabricate scaffolds. As a result, several 3D printing technologies, including stereolithography, deposition modeling, selective laser sintering, and inkjet-based printing recently have been developed. Because these methods use computers for design 582and fabrication, 3D printing technologies can fabricate 3D scaffolds precisely as designed, which enables their standardization. Using these technologies, scaffolds that are customized to each individual patient can be produced. If new materials and designs for optimal scaffold fabrication systems can be developed and combined with enhanced understanding of cell physiology (i.e., optimal cell adhesion, proliferation, and vascularization), 3D printing technologies will become an important aspect of tissue engineering research in the near future.