Computationally designed lattices with tuned properties for tissue engineering using 3D printing

Paul F. Egan, Veronica C. Gonella, Max Engensperger, Stephen J. Ferguson, Kristina Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Tissue scaffolds provide structural support while facilitating tissue growth, but are challenging to design due to diverse property trade-offs. Here, a computational approach was developed for modeling scaffolds with lattice structures of eight different topologies and assessing properties relevant to bone tissue engineering applications. Evaluated properties include porosity, pore size, surface-volume ratio, elastic modulus, shear modulus, and permeability. Lattice topologies were generated by patterning beam-based unit cells, with design parameters for beam diameter and unit cell length. Finite element simulations were conducted for each topology and quantified how elastic modulus and shear modulus scale with porosity, and how permeability scales with porosity cubed over surface-volume ratio squared. Lattices were compared with controlled properties related to porosity and pore size. Relative comparisons suggest that lattice topology leads to specializations in achievable properties. For instance, Cube topologies tend to have high elastic and low shear moduli while Octet topologies have high shear moduli and surface-volume ratios but low permeability. The developed method was utilized to analyze property trade-offs as beam diameter was altered for a given topology, and used to prototype a 3D printed lattice embedded in an interbody cage for spinal fusion treatments. Findings provide a basis for modeling and understanding relative differences among beam-based lattices designed to facilitate bone tissue growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0182902
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017


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