The influence of poly(ester amide) on the structural and functional features of 3D additive manufactured poly(e-caprolactone) scaffolds
The current research reports for the first time the use of blends of poly(e-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly(ester amide) (PEA) for the fabrication of 3D additive manufactured scaffolds. Tailor made PEA was synthesized to afford fully miscible blends of PCL and PEA using different percentages (5, 10, 15 and 20% w/w). Stability, characteristic temperatures and material's compatibility were studied through thermal analyses (i.e., TGA, DSC). Even though DMTA and static compression tests demonstrated the possibility to improve the storage modulus, Young's modulus and maximum stress by increasing the amount of PEA, a decrease of hardness was found beyond a threshold concentration of PEA as the lowest values were achieved for PCL/PEA (20% w/w) scaffolds (from 0.39 ± 0.03 GPa to 0.21 ± 0.02 GPa in the analysed load range). The scaffolds presented a controlled morphology and a fully interconnected network of internal channels. The water contact angle measurements showed a clear increase of hydrophilicity resulting from the addition of PEA. This result was further corroborated with the improved adhesion and proliferation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). The presence of PEA also influenced the cell morphology. Better cell spreading and a much higher and homogenous number of cells were observed for PCL/PEA scaffolds when compared to PCL ones.