Structure-property relationships in 3D-printed poly(l-lactide-co-ε-caprolactone) degradable polymer.
The recent growth of polymer 3D-printing has brought innovation to the medical implant field. Implants with complex porous structures can be fabricated by printing to tune mechanical behavior and enable diffusion, consequently improving integration with tissues in the human body. Poly(L-lactide-co-ε-caprolactone) (PLCL) is a 3D-printable polymer that possess a wide range of possible mechanical properties depending on its monomer composition. It is often used in biomedical applications requiring degradability. In this study, we explore 1) the effect of annealing 3D-printed PLCL and 2) the degradation profile of both annealed and unannealed 3D-printed PLCL scaffolds. The degraded samples were characterized for its molecular weight, mass loss, microstructure, and mechanical properties. By annealing the 3D-printed PLCL, we reveal the structure-property relationship of PLCL. Crystallization was found to be a crucial factor in the resulting mechanical properties, increasing stiffness significantly. The subsequent degradation study revealed that there was no significant difference brought about by pre-annealing the scaffolds. The scaffolds were found to maintain their mechanical properties until up to 8 weeks, at which point the scaffolds reached a critical molecular weight and lost their mechanical integrity.
Bachtiar, EO; Ritter, VC; Gall, K
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