Effect of needle geometry on flow rate and cell damage in the dispensing-based biofabrication process



Biodispensing techniques have been widely applied in biofabrication processes to deliver cell suspensions and biomaterials to create cell-seeded constructs. Under identical operating conditions, two types of dispensing needles—tapered and cylindrical—can result in different flow rates of material and different cell damage percent induced by the mechanical forces. In this work, mathematical models of both flow rate and cell damage percent in biodispensing systems using tapered and cylindrical needles, respectively, were developed, and experiments were carried out to verify the effectiveness of the developed models. Both simulations and experiments show tapered needles produce much higher flow rates under the same pressure conditions than cylindrical needles. Use of a lower pressure in a tapered needle can therefore achieve the same flow rate as that in a cylindrical needle. At equivalent flow rates, cell damage in a tapered needle is lower than that in a cylindrical one. Both Schwann cells and 3T3 fibroblasts, which have been widely used in tissue engineering, were used to validate the cell damage models. Application of the developed models to specify the influence of process parameters, including needle geometry and air pressure, on the flow rate and cell damage percent represents a significant advance for biofabrication processes. The models can be used to optimize process parameters to preserve cell viability and achieve the desired cell distribution in dispensing-based biofabrication. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog.,, 2011