The main goal in biofabrication approach is to build living tissue substitutes on demand. In order to create functional tissue structures, additive manufacturing (AM) technologies are being increasingly considered. They allow generating functional structures created out of CAD models within a short period of time and with a very high precision. Different techniques are already established to build three-dimensional (3D) complex cell-loaded structures. One of these robotic additive fabrication techniques is the ink jet technology which is highly promising for biofabrication. This technique allows to process very small amounts of liquids or low-viscous polymer solutions e.g. to set biomolecules and cells in a suitable structure. The aim of this study is to evaluate a piezo inkjet printing device which is integrated in a commercial modular instrument platform together with a bioplotting system for biofabrication. The inkjet device is able to print single ink droplets of different volumes by controlling the applied voltage and the number of drops released to the spot. In this work different selective sets of parameters influencing the droplet formation and the spot size have been investigated. It has been proven that inkjet printing process in combination with fibrin hydrogel and bone marrow stromal cells is cytocompatible. In summary, the applied piezo inkjet printing is shown to be completely programmable, accurate and the resolution of the device allowed printing of various patterns with biomaterials and vital cells.
Hydrogels are gaining interest as scaffolds for bone tissue regeneration due to ease of incorporation of cells and biological molecules such as enzymes. Mineralization of hydrogels, desirable for bone tissue regeneration applications, may be achieved enzymatically by incorporation of alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Additive manufacturing techniques such as bioplotting enable the layer-by-layer creation of three-dimensional hydrogel scaffolds with highly defined geometry and internal architecture. In this study, we present a novel method to produce macroporous hydrogel scaffolds in combination with cell-loaded capsule-containing struts by 3D bioplotting. This approach enables loading of the capsules and strut phases with different cells and/or bioactive substances and hence makes compartmentalization within a scaffold possible. 3D porous alginate scaffolds enriched with ALP and MG-63 osteoblast-like cells were produced by bioplotting struts of alginate which were loaded with pre-fabricated alginate capsules. Two combinations were compared, namely ALP in the struts and cells in the capsules and vice-versa. Both combinations were cytocompatible for cells and mineralization of scaffolds could be detected in both cases, according to an OsteoImage staining. ALP had no adverse effect on cytocompatibility and enhanced mitochondrial activity.