Automated Design of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds by Advanced CAD
The design of scaffolds with an intricate and controlled internal structure represents a challenge for Tissue Engineering. Several scaffold manufacturing techniques allow the creation of complex and random architectures, but have little or no control over geometrical parameters such as pore size, shape and interconnectivity- things that are essential for tissue regeneration. The combined use of CAD software and layer manufacturing techniques allow a high degree of control over those parameters, resulting in reproducible geometrical architectures. However, the design of the complex and intricate network of channels that are required in conventional CAD, is extremely time consuming: manually setting thousands of different geometrical parameters may require several days in which to design the individual scaffold structures. This research proposes an automated design methodology in order to overcome those limitations. The combined use of Object Oriented Programming and advanced CAD software, allows the rapid generation of thousands of different geometrical elements. Each has a different set of parameters that can be changed by the software, either randomly or according to a given mathematical formula, so that they match the different distribution of geometrical elements such as pore size and pore interconnectivity. This work describes a methodology that has been used to design five cubic scaffolds with pore size ranging from about 200 to 800 µm, each with an increased complexity of the internal geometry.