Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Scaffold Handling Device

Background:  In tissue engineering laboratories, delicate fibrous scaffolds, such as electrospun nanofiber scaffolds, are often used as substrates for cell culture. Typical scaffold handling procedures include lifting the scaffolds, moving them from one container to another, sterilization, and loading scaffolds into cell culture plates. Using tweezers to handle the scaffolds can be slow, can damage the scaffolds, and can cause them to wrinkle or fold. Scaffolds may also acquire a static charge which makes them difficult to put down as they cling to tweezers. An SHD has been designed that enables more efficient, gentle lifting, and placement of delicate scaffolds. The SHD can switch from gentle suction to positive pressure to lift and place nanofiber scaffolds. Most of the parts to make the SHD can be purchased, except for the tip which can be 3D-printed. The SHD enables more reliable handling of nanofiber scaffolds that may improve the consistency of biomanufacturing processes.

The following reference describes the SHD in greater detail, provides a parts list and provides directions for building the SHD:

  • Hotaling NA, Khristov V, Maminishkis A, Bharti K, Simon Jr CG (2017) A switchable positive and negative air pressure device for efficient and gentle handling of nanofiber scaffolds. Review of Scientific Instruments 88, 104301-1 - 104301-6.



Scaffold Handling Device
Scaffold Handling Device (SHD). (a) Computer aided drawing. (b) Photograph. (c) SHD with a nanofiber scaffold on the tip under gentle vacuum.




Files for 3D Printing the Tips (.stl) for the SHD:


Acknowledgements: Nathan Hotaling designed the SHD with help and input from Vladimir Khristov, Arvydas Maminishkis and Kapil Bharti.

Contact: Carl Simon (carl.simon [at] (carl[dot]simon[at]nist[dot]gov), 301-975-8574)


Carl Simon

Created October 19, 2017, Updated November 26, 2019