EnvisionTEC reaches yet another huge milestone in bioprinting research for the most versatile bioprinting development system that has been reached with the study of the scaffold for a tympanic membrane. This is an important step towards the bioprinting of complex implantable cartilage structures, a process that is already close to practical applications. When considering the level of complexity of the various bio-structures in the human body, very few feature the intricate structure and unique functionality of the tympanic membrane (the eardrum). This sparked the interest of Lorenzo Moroni and his team at the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine, at the University of Maastricht, to explore the limits of bioprinting using the most advanced equipment available for this task, that is EnvisionTEC’s 3D-Bioplotter®.
Lorenzo and his team are focused on the 3D printing of the three-dimensional scaffolds that will support the cellular materials. The scaffolds were composed of two FDA-approved copolymers of wide biomedical use and were built using two different approaches. In the first approach, the scaffolds were created by electrospinning (ES) and in the second approach, ES was combined with 3D printing to produce three dimensional structures from other copolymers.
The scaffold would be implanted together with the membrane and would progressively dissolve and be absorbed by the newly formed cells. In this case, the material is extruded in the form of a paste with thermoplastic properties, it is more fluid when hot, and becomes gradually more solid as it cools down. Moroni’s team members were among the first to have modified EnvisionTEC’s bioplotter in order to enable the extrusion of plastic materials.