Scaffolds for regenerative medicine applications should instruct cells with the appropriate signals, including biophysical stimuli such as stress and strain, to form the desired tissue. Apart from that, scaffolds, especially for load-bearing applications, should be capable of providing mechanical stability. Since both scaffold strength and stress-strain distributions throughout the scaffold depend on the scaffold's internal architecture, it is important to understand how changes in architecture influence these parameters. In this study, four scaffold designs with different architectures were produced using additive manufacturing. The designs varied in fiber orientation, while fiber diameter, spacing, and layer height remained constant. Based on micro-CT (μCT) scans, finite element models (FEMs) were derived for finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). FEA of scaffold compression was validated using μCT scan data of compressed scaffolds. Results of the FEA and CFD showed a significant impact of scaffold architecture on fluid shear stress and mechanical strain distribution. The average fluid shear stress ranged from 3.6 mPa for a 0/90 architecture to 6.8 mPa for a 0/90 offset architecture, and the surface shear strain from 0.0096 for a 0/90 offset architecture to 0.0214 for a 0/90 architecture. This subsequently resulted in variations of the predicted cell differentiation stimulus values on the scaffold surface. Fluid shear stress was mainly influenced by pore shape and size, while mechanical strain distribution depended mainly on the presence or absence of supportive columns in the scaffold architecture. Together, these results corroborate that scaffold architecture can be exploited to design scaffolds with regions that guide specific tissue development under compression and perfusion. In conjunction with optimization of stimulation regimes during bioreactor cultures, scaffold architecture optimization can be used to improve scaffold design for tissue engineering purposes.
- Journal Article