A step toward engineering thick tissues: Distributing microfibers within 3D printed frames

Joseph Molde, Joseph A.M. Steele, Alexandra K. Pastino, Anisha Mahat, N. Sanjeeva Murthy, Joachim Kohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Microfiber mats for tissue engineering scaffolds support cell growth, but are limited by poor cell infiltration and nutrient transport. Three-dimensional printing, specifically fused deposition modeling (FDM), can rapidly produce customized constructs, but macroscopic porosity resulting from low resolution reduces cell seeding efficiency and prevents the formation of continuous cell networks. Here we describe the fabrication of hierarchical scaffolds that integrate a fibrous microenvironment with the open macropore structure of FDM. Biodegradable tyrosine-derived polycarbonate microfibers were airbrushed iteratively between layers of 3D printed support structure following optimization. Confocal imaging showed layers of airbrushed fiber mats supported human dermal fibroblast growth and extracellular matrix development throughout the scaffold. When implanted subcutaneously, hierarchical scaffolds facilitated greater cell infiltration and tissue formation than airbrushed fiber mats. Fibronectin matrix assembled in vitro throughout the hierarchical scaffold survived decellularization and provided a hybrid substrate for recellularization with mesenchymal stromal cells. These results demonstrate that by combining FDM and airbrushing techniques we can engineer customizable hierarchical scaffolds for thick tissues that support increased cell growth and infiltration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-591
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys


  • 3D Printing
  • Airbrushing
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Fused Deposition Modeling
  • Hierarchical Scaffold
  • Scaffold Fabrication
  • Solution Blow Spinning

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