Logo Logo
Switch Language to German

Kuhlmann, Constanze; Blum, Jana C.; Schenck, Thilo L.; Giunta, Riccardo E. and Wiggenhauser, Paul Severin (2021): Evaluation of the Usability of a Low-Cost 3D Printer in a Tissue Engineering Approach for External Ear Reconstruction. In: International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 22, No. 21, 11667

Full text not available from 'Open Access LMU'.


The use of alloplastic materials instead of autologous cartilage grafts offers a new perspective in craniofacial reconstructive surgery. Particularly for regenerative approaches, customized implants enable the surgeon to restore the cartilaginous framework of the ear without donor site morbidity. However, high development and production costs of commercially available implants impede clinical translation. For this reason, the usability of a low-cost 3D printer (Ultimaker 2+) as an inhouse-production tool for cheap surgical implants was investigated. The open software architecture of the 3D printer was modified in order to enable printing of biocompatible and biologically degradable polycaprolactone (PCL). Firstly, the printing accuracy and limitations of a PCL implant were compared to reference materials acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). Then the self-made PCL-scaffold was seeded with adipose-tissue derived stem cells (ASCs), and biocompatibility was compared to a commercially available PCL-scaffold using a cell viability staining (FDA/PI) and a dsDNA quantification assay (PicoGreen). Secondly, porous and solid patient-customized ear constructs were manufactured from mirrored CT-imagining data using a computer-assisted design (CAD) and computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM) approach to evaluate printing accuracy and reproducibility. The results show that printing of a porous PCL scaffolds was possible, with an accuracy equivalent to the reference materials at an edge length of 10 mm and a pore size of 0.67 mm. Cell viability, adhesion, and proliferation of the ASCs were equivalent on self-made and the commercially available PCL-scaffolds. Patient-customized ear constructs could be produced well in solid form and with limited accuracy in porous form from all three thermoplastic materials. Printing dimensions and quality of the modified low-cost 3D printer are sufficient for selected tissue engineering applications, and the manufacturing of personalized ear models for surgical simulation at manufacturing costs of EUR 0.04 per cell culture scaffold and EUR 0.90 (0.56) per solid (porous) ear construct made from PCL. Therefore, in-house production of PCL-based tissue engineering scaffolds and surgical implants should be further investigated to facilitate the use of new materials and 3D printing in daily clinical routine.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item