Project Title: Development by robocasting and mechanical optimization of hybrid ceramic/polymer coaxial scaffolds for biomedical applications

Acronym: TOUGH-SCAFFOLD (MAT2015-64670-R)

Funding Entity: Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (MEC)

Participating Entities:  University of Extremadura

Duration: 1/1/2016 – 31/12/2018

Budget: 145 200 €

Principal Investigator (PI): Pedro Miranda

Number of researchers: 3


TOUGH-SCAFFOLD project allowed the development and optimization of new biomaterials for application in bone tissue engineering based on additive manufacturing techniques. Specifically, scaffold with controlled microstructure and pore architecture were manufactured using robocasting (DIW). The bars that make up these structure were hybrid, composed of an outer layer of bioactive ceramic material and a biopolymer core. As has been demonstrated in the mechanical tests carried out, this configuration allows to optimally combine the best characteristics of both materials, with the bioceramic providing good rigidity, high resistance and excellent osteoconductivity and the biopolymer providing toughness and ductility to the structure. To obtain this novel architecture, coaxial deposition techniques was used. Calcium phosphates (hydroxyapatite, tricalcium phosphate) were used as a bioceramic material and polycaprolactone (PCL) as biopolymer. The microstructure and three-dimensional architecture of these scaffolding was adjusted to achieve optimal mechanical behavior without compromising their osteoconductive capacity. In addition, new bioglass compositions reinforced with graphene were developed, to increase the intrinsic toughness and resistance of the bioceramic material in order to maximize the mechanical performance of the scaffolds developed.

The materials developed could find application in the regeneration of large bone defects even in regions of the skeleton subjected to loads, thanks to their excellent combination of mechanical properties. In addition, they will accelerate the fixation/osseointegration of the implant and guarantee the mechanical integrity of the implant/tissue system throughout the regenerative process. However, due to the transversal nature of the results obtained in this project, consisting of the development of new advanced materials, with a bold and innovative microstructural design, and novel technologies/manufacturing strategies, its impact could be extended to other applications beyond the biomedical field.