Development of three-dimensional printing polymer-ceramic scaffolds with enhanced compressive properties and tuneable resorption

Zuoxin Zhou, Eoin Cunningham, Alex Lennon, Helen McCarthy, Fraser Buchanan, Nicholas Dunne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
269 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, bone tissue engineered scaffolds fabricated via powder-based 3D printing from hydroxyapatite (HA) and calcium sulphate (CaSO4) powders were investigated. The combination of using a fast resorbing CaSO4 based powder and the relatively slower HA powder represents a promising prospect for tuning the bioresorption of 3D printed (3DP) scaffolds. These properties could then be tailored to coincide with tissue growth rate for different surgical procedures. The manufactured scaffolds were infiltrated with poly(ε‑caprolactone) (PCL). The PCL infiltrated the inter-particle spacing within the 3DP structures due to the nature of a loosely-packed powder bed and also covered the surface of ceramic-based scaffolds. Consequently, the average compressive strength, compressive modulus and toughness increased by 314%, 465% and 867%, respectively. The resorption behaviour of the 3DP scaffolds was characterised in vitro using a high-throughput system that mimicked the physiological environment and dynamic flow conditions relevant to the human body. A rapid release of CaSO4 between Day 0 and 28 was commensurate with a reduction in scaffold mass and compressive properties, as well as an increase in medium absorption. In spite of this, HA particles, connected by PCL fibrils, remained within the microstructure after 56 days resorption under dynamic conditions. Consequently, a high level of structural integrity was maintained within the 3DP scaffold. This study presented a porous PCL-HA-CaSO4 3DP structure with the potential to encourage new tissue growth during the initial stages of implantation and also offering sufficient structural and mechanical support during the bone healing phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-986
Number of pages12
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Early online date23 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2018


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Calcium sulphate
  • Dynamic resorption
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • Poly(ε‑caprolactone)
  • Tissue-engineering bone scaffold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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