A Comparison Study on the Effects of Polycaprolactone Degradation Using Different 3D Bio-Printing Technologies

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Petersen, Katy Michelle
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Polycaprolactone (PCL) is a respected polymer for bio-implantation in the field of tissue engineering for scaffolding due to the its compatible and slow bio-degradation properties. While studies have been conducted on the mechanical properties of PCL before and after degradation, minor research has been done on PCL combined with hydroxyapatite (PCL/HA). HA occurs naturally in human bones and calcification, and when combined with PCL creates a rougher texture more suitable to cell adhesion. For this study, PCL and PCL/HA samples were constructed using two different printing methods (selective laser sintering and extrusion-based printing) before undergoing degradation testing. Sintered samples were composed of PCL/HA, while extruded samples were made of PCL-only or PCL/HA, and all three groups were made in a porous and solid version, to total six sample groups. Degradation testing in NaOH solution, to simulate the body's pH, was conducted with all six groups, for periods of 1, 2, and 4 weeks. While significant weight loss and smoothing of surface characteristics was shown across all sample groups, average Young's modulus from compression testing did not show a corresponding significant decrease from non-degraded samples. Further research could include be conducted to expand the range of mechanical testing to include bending tests, as well as longer degradation studies than the one month maximum used for this research to explore at what point degradation impacts structural integrity of scaffolding.
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