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Microassembly Fabrication of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds With Customized Design

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4 Author(s)
Han Zhang ; GE Global Res. Center Ltd., Shanghai ; Burdet, E. ; Poo, A.N. ; Hutmacher, D.W.

This paper presents a novel technique to fabricate scaffold/cell constructs for tissue engineering by robotic assembly of microscopic building blocks (of volume and 60 thickness). In this way, it becomes possible to build scaffolds with freedom in the design of architecture, surface morphology, and chemistry. Biocompatible microparts with complex 3-D shapes were first designed and mass produced using MEMS techniques. Semi-automatic assembly was then realized using a robotic workstation with four degrees of freedom integrating a dedicated microgripper and two optical microscopes. Coarse movement of the gripper is determined by pattern matching in the microscopes images, while the operator controls fine positioning and accurate insertion of the microparts. Successful microassembly was demonstrated using SU-8 and acrylic resin microparts. Taking advantage of parts distortion and adhesion forces, which dominate at micro-level, the parts cleave together after assembly. In contrast to many current scaffold fabrication techniques, no heat, pressure, electrical effect, or toxic chemical reaction is involved, a critical condition for creating scaffolds with biological agents.

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Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 3 )