The introduction of two-photon polymerization (2PP) to the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) has led to great expectations for the production of scaffolds with an unprecedented degree of complexity and tailorable architecture. Unfortunately, resolution and size are usually mutually exclusive when using 2PP, resulting in a lack of highly-detailed scaffolds with a relevant size for clinical application. Through the combination of using a highly reactive photopolymer and optimizing key printing parameters, we propose for the first time a biodegradable and biocompatible poly(trimethylene-carbonate) (PTMC)-based scaffold of large size (18 × 18 × 0.9 mm) with a volume of 292 mm3 produced using 2PP. This increase in size results in a significant volumetric increase by almost an order of magnitude compared to previously available large-scale structures (Stichel 2010 J. Laser Micro./Nanoeng. 5 209–12). The structure’s detailed design resulted in a highly porous scaffold (96%) with excellent cytocompatibility, supporting the attachment, proliferation and differentiation of human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells towards their osteogenic and chondrogenic lineages. This work strongly attests that 2PP is becoming a highly suitable technique for producing large-sized scaffolds with a complex architecture. We show as a proof-of-concept that an arrayed design of repetitive units can be produced, but a further perspective will be to print scaffolds with anisotropic features that are more representative of human tissues.
- Biomaterial ink supplementary material for this article is available online
- Poly(trimethylene carbonate)
- Tissue engineering
- Two-photon polymerization