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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 January 2017
In today’s technology, organ transplantation is found very challenging as it is not easy to find the right donor organ in a short period of time. In the last several decades, tissue engineering was rapidly developed to be used as an alternative approach to the organ transplantation. Tissue engineering aims to regenerate the tissues and also organs to help patients who waits for the organ transplantation. Recent research showed that in order to regenerate the tissues, cells must be seeded onto the 3D artificial laboratory fabricated matrices called scaffolds. If cells show healthy growth within the scaffolds, they can be implanted to the injured tissue to do the regeneration. One of the biggest limitation that reduces the success rate of tissue regeneration is the fabrication of accurate thick 3D scaffolds. In this research “maskless photolithography” was used to fabricate the scaffolds. Experiment setup consist of digital micro-mirror devices (DMD) (Texas Instruments, DLi4120), optical lens sets, UV light source (DYMAX, BlueWave 200) and PEGDA which is a liquid form photo-curable solution. In this method, scaffolds are fabricated in layer-by-layer fashion to control the interior architecture of the scaffolds. Working principles of the maskless photolithography is, first layer shape is designed with AutoCAD and the designed image is uploaded to the DMD as a bitmap file. DMD consists of hundreds of tiny micro-mirrors. When the UV light is turned on and irradiated the DMD, depending on the micro-mirrors’ angles, UV light is selectively reflected to the low percentage Polyethylene (glycol) Diacrylate (PEGDA) photo-curable solution. When UV light penetrates into the PEGDA, only the illuminated part is solidified and non-illuminated area still remains in the liquid phase. In this research, scaffolds were fabricated in three layers. First layer and the last layer are solid layers and y-shape open structure was sandwiched between these layers. After the first layer is fabricated with DMD, a “y-shape” structure was fabricated with the 3D printer by using the dissolvable filament. Then, it was placed onto the first solid layer and covered with fresh high percentage PEGDA solution. UV light was reflected to the PEGDA solution and solidified to make the second and third layers. After the scaffold was fabricated, it is dipped into the limonene solution to dissolve the y-shape away. Our results show that thick scaffolds can be fabricated in layer-by-layer fashion with “maskless photolithography”. Since the UV light is stable and does not move onto the PEGDA, entire scaffold can be fabricated in one single UV shot which makes the process faster than the current fabrication techniques.
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