Melt Electrowriting (MEW) is a novel 3D printing method that allows fabricating scaffolds with different designs, including structural gradients. The gradient scaffolds can be useful, for example, in the engineering of tissue interfaces, which are characterized by gradually changing mechanical and biological properties . Nonetheless, the prediction of such scaffolds’ properties is a challenge.
The aim of this project is the development of a computer simulation that will allow predicting the mechanical properties of the scaffolds produced with MEW. This will ultimately facilitate the designing process for researchers working with MEW.
Polymeric scaffolds were fabricated using the MEW technique using polycaprolactone. the mechanical properties of scaffolds with different pore sizes and designs were analyzed in tensile testing. COMSOL Multiphysics® was used to simulate the tensile testing of printed scaffolds.
The scaffolds with varying designs, including gradients, were printed with a fiber diameter of 16 µm. SEM images showed good accuracy of printing and high precision of layer deposition. Tensile test results revealed the dependency of mechanical properties on scaffold design. The developed computational models allowed for accurate simulations of scaffolds’ mechanical performance, i.e. Young’s Modulus and deformation.
The mechanical properties of MEW printed scaffolds can be tuned by the scaffold’s design. The proposed computer simulation helps predict the mechanical properties of the scaffolds with high accuracy, at the deformation range of up to 2% (elastic region). In the next steps, computer simulations will be evaluated for higher deformations. Such models will accelerate the development of MEW scaffolds with tissue-specific properties.
 Bayrak E, Huri PY. Engineering Musculoskeletal Tissue Interfaces. Frontiers in Materials 5, 24, 2018