AIRBRUSHING: A RAPID, LOW-COST METHOD FOR FABRICATING POLYMERIC NANOFIBER SCAFFOLDS FOR TISSUE ENGINEERING

 

Wojtek Tutak, Sheng Lin-Gibson, Tanya M. Farooque, Giri Jyotsnendu, Dongbo Wang, Carl G. Simon, Jr.

Polymer nanofibers are employed in a wide range of applications including electronics, material reinforcement and biomedical engineering.  Non-woven polymeric nanofiber scaffolds are of particular interest to tissue engineering since the fiber mats emulate the structure of native extracellular matrix (ECM).  However, nanofiber scaffolds are typically synthesized using an electrospinning method which is slow and requires high voltage equipment.  Here we present an alternative airbrushing technique which can be used for rapid nanofiber scaffold fabrication. Fibers are formed when compressed gas (N2 or air) is mixed with polymer solution and forced through a small nozzle.   Airbrushing provides higher deposition rates, safer operation and 100-fold lower cost of implementation in comparison with electrospinning.  We show that airbrushing can make nanofiber scaffolds from four different polymers demonstrating its versatility.  In vitro biological evaluation of the airbrushed scaffolds demonstrated their ability to support primary human bone marrow stromal cell growth and osteogenic differentiation.  These results demonstrate an inexpensive, safe, high-throughput approach to making nanofiber scaffolds that can be used for tissue engineering applications.