About 3D Printability of Thermoplastic Collagen for Biomedical Applications
With more than 1.5 million total knee and hip implants placed each year, there is an urgent need for a drug delivery system that can effectively support the repair of bone infections. Scaffolds made of natural biopolymers are widely used for this purpose due to their biocompatibility, biodegradability, and suitable mechanical properties. However, the poor processability is a bottleneck, as highly customizable scaffolds are desired. The aim of the present research is to develop a scaffold made of thermoplastic collagen (TC) using 3D printing technology. The viscosity of the material was measured using a rheometer. A 3D bioplotter was used to fabricate the scaffolds out of TC. The mechanical properties of the TC scaffolds were performed using tension/compression testing on a Zwick/Roell universal testing machine. TC shows better compressibility with increasing temperature and a decrease in dynamic viscosity (η), storage modulus (G′), and loss modulus (G″). The compressive strength of the TC scaffolds was between 3–10 MPa, depending on the geometry (cylinder or cuboid, with different infills). We have demonstrated for the first time that TC can be used to fabricate porous scaffolds by 3D printing in various geometries.