Controlling cell behavior has generated immense attention in the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Particular emphasis has been given to the creation of 3D biomimetic cellular microenvironments that replicate the complex nature of the extracellular matrix (ECM). A key factor that has not been rigorously deconstructed using scalable, layered manufacturing approaches is the structural dimension or scale aspect of in vitro culture models. Melt electrospinning represents a bio-additive manufacturing process that has been relatively under-reported. Although complex in nature, the melt electrospinning process can furnish a 3D cell delivery format with physiologically relevant 3D structural cues. In the present work, poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) has been chosen as the biomaterial substrate. Rheological studies that guide the design phase of the reported system have been performed for the entire PCL melt processing range, implicating the governing effect of the experimental melt temperature on the scale and the topography in the final processed material. Notable challenges that arise from the nature of the process with respect to the electrospun fiber stability and resolution have been overcome through the design of a novel heating element configuration. In this paper, a reliable biofabrication process with tunable processing of the fiber diameter and alignment is reported. Fundamental parametric studies utilizing the major processing parameters demonstrate the potential for the system to precisely fabricate 3D PCL scaffolds with microstructural features.

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