A micro-scale surface-structured PCL scaffold fabricated by a 3D plotter and a chemical blowing agent

To study cell responses, polymeric scaffolds with a controllable pore size and porosity have been fabricated using rapid-prototyping methods. However, the scaffolds fabricated by rapid prototyping have very smooth surfaces, which tend to discourage initial cell attachment. Initial cell attachment, migration, differentiation and proliferation are strongly dependent on the chemical and physical characteristics of the scaffold surface. In this study, we propose a three-dimensional (3D) plotting method supplemented with a chemical blowing agent to produce a surface-modified 3D scaffold in which the surface is inscribed with nano- and micro-sized pores. The chemically-blown 3D polymeric scaffold exhibited positive qualities, including the compressive modulus, hydrophilicity and initial cell adhesion. Cell cultures on the scaffolds demonstrated that chondrocytes interacted better with the surface-modified scaffold than with a normal 3D scaffold.