Bone Scaffolds and 3D Printing Wanted!

Many of you have heard about my main PhD project looking at tissue engineering of the breast through biodegradeable scaffolds. More specifically, I’m looking at the desired lattice structure of these scaffolds. Recently I’ve taken up another side project looking at a similar lattice principle for bone scaffolds. In difference to breast scaffolds, these need to be strong rather than flexible. They also need to have high porosity to encourage growth and regeneration.

This new side project is examining mathematically generated Triply Periodic Minimal Surface (TPMS) lattices for use within bone scaffolds. What makes TPMS mega sweet for tissue engineering is the way that you can maximise surface area while controlling porosity mathematically. Here’s a few below with their corresponding mathematical formulas:

Schwarz G




I’ll be undertaking a number of tests with both acetone bathed and non-acetone bathed models. These include compression testing (with giant crushing machines) torsion testing (twisting stress) as well as Scanning Electron Microscopy and Micro Cat Scanning. I’ve got 44 different TPMS models to test, and to make things statistically significant I need to crush/twist at least 8 of each sample and MicroCT and SEM at least 3 of each sample.

This means…

Non-coated for Compression tests: 8
Coated for Compression tests: 8
Non-coated for Torsion tests: 8
Coated for Torsion tests: 8
Non-coated for MicroCT: 3
Coated for MicroCT: 3
Non-coated for SEM: 3
Coated for SEM : 3
44 x Models = 1936 Models Total

Sweet mother of Reprap.

That’s quite a lot.

I have two 3D printers I can use at QUT for this, and can print about 14 models per day if all goes well. This means I’ll need 138 days of printing, or 5 months. This time will go down to about three months if and when the third QUT printer is repaired. The lengths of large scale studies for good scientific journals!

If you have a printer lying around which could be used to print scaffolds in down time, I would love to hear from you. I can supply the quality natural ABS plastic in 3mm or 1.75mm.

To say thanks, I will:

  • Attribute you in the acknowledgements of the scientific article
  • Give you an energetic high five
  • Shout you dinner on a Tuesday night

If you could print me 44 or more, I’d:

  • Paint you a watercolour portrait of yourself/Spock/whoever, or
  • Shout you a case or a bottle of something

‘Do it for Science’ - Carl Sagan


Could their be a problem with some printers making weaker models generally and is this something that needs to be accounted for?

(No 3d printer here unfortunately though)

As long as we match the gcode (eg. 0.2mm layer height) and natural ABS is used, I’m satisfied. We aren’t controlling for 3D printer type in this study as we already have a few different models of printers being used at the lab.

I print for you.


Do you think that a particular application should be used to match the gcode or is that not a thing? Is it mainly that the layer height is correct. If the application that is used added scaffold/support structure would that mess things up? Would it have to print the part exactly as supplied? When you use the different types of printer in your lab do you use the same software? I have some ideas on how we can get some support for this project :smile:

You’re right, it’s mainly matching the settings such as layer height, infill etc. We are currently using Up! Brand printers for this project with no support structures so that shouldn’t be a problem with different slicers generating slightly different gcode. And yes, the part should be exactly as supplied and so far the same software :smiley:

I’m willing to try printing at least one. I personaly prefer PLA, so maybe I could start by doing one in that and see how it goes.


@sjpiper145 - I asked a couple of people on Tuesday night about a cunning plan I had (although I didn’t have a tail for it) and it received potential approval.

Would it be possible for a 3D printer to be set up in the Green Room specifically for printing these models out for you? My thinking is that if there was a specific printer set up with the code preloaded and the appropriate ABS inserted, then people who were at the space for a few hours could start printing the file, do whatever they are there for and just check in on it every so often until it’s finished.

Maybe put a whopping great sign above it with bright adornments specifying that the printer is to be used exclusively for this purpose and a box beside it for the finished models?

Also, there’s a couple of 3D printers in the Digital fab room which appear to have been lying idle since I’ve been floating around the space. If these are in operable condition, would their respective owners object to them being used for this purpose? If they’re borked Batman, they what is required to get them operable, what is the cost, and can they be used for this purpose?


It would be great if you could make a Google Sheet of your requirements, along with your delivery address. In the UP software, if you do a print preview with all your settings, then save as a “project” as UPP file. It will save your layer height, fll, settings etc. Pop me an email and I’ll send an email out to all UP users in AU! bruce at