Direct inkjet writing of polylactic acid/β-tricalcium phosphate composites for bone tissue regeneration: A proof-of-concept study

Vasudev Vivekanand Nayak, Vijayavenkataraman Sanjairaj, Rakesh Kumar Behera, James E. Smay, Nikhil Gupta, Paulo G. Coelho, Lukasz Witek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an ever-evolving need of customized, anatomic-specific grafting materials for bone regeneration. More specifically, biocompatible and osteoconductive materials, that may be configured dynamically to fit and fill defects, through the application of an external stimulus. The objective of this study was to establish a basis for the development of direct inkjet writing (DIW)-based shape memory polymer-ceramic composites for bone tissue regeneration applications and to establish material behavior under thermomechanical loading. Polymer-ceramic (polylactic acid [PLA]/β-tricalcium phosphate [β-TCP]) colloidal gels were prepared of different w/w ratios (90/10, 80/20, 70/30, 60/40, and 50/50) through polymer dissolution in acetone (15% w/v). Cytocompatibility was analyzed through Presto Blue assays. Rheological properties of the colloidal gels were measured to determine shear-thinning capabilities. Gels were then extruded through a custom-built DIW printer. Space filling constructs of the gels were printed and subjected to thermomechanical characterization to measure shape fixity (Rf) and shape recovery (Rr) ratios through five successive shape memory cycles. The polymer-ceramic composite gels exhibited shear-thinning capabilities for extrusion through a nozzle for DIW. A significant increase in cellular viability was observed with the addition of β-TCP particles within the polymer matrix relative to pure PLA. Shape memory effect in the printed constructs was repeatable up to 4 cycles followed by permanent deformation. While further research on scaffold macro-/micro-geometries, and engineered porosities are warranted, this proof-of-concept study suggested suitability of this polymer-ceramic material and the DIW 3D printing workflow for the production of customized, patient specific constructs for bone tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere35402
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • 3D printing
  • bone tissue engineering
  • composites
  • shape memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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