Date of Award

11-2009

Degree Name

MS in Engineering

Department

Biomedical and General Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Robert Crockett

Abstract

Cell culturing on three-dimensional structures has increased the possibilities in tissue engineering and bioreactor research. These structures enable cells to differentiate, proliferate, mobilize, and function in a conformation that more accurately mimics in vivo conditions. Computer generated models aid in development and rapid alteration of three-dimensional cell substrates, defining their internal structure as well as their external morphology. The rapid transition from substrate design to a viable culture is imperative to quickly advance research in biomedical and tissue engineering applications.

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the feasibility of a rapid prototyping process by selectively cross-linking and assembling biocompatible films. This investigation revealed that selectively cross-linking and layering gelatin films could produce a three-dimensional substrate with a defined structure after dissolving uncross-linked gelatin. The study also revealed that freeze-drying aided in the rapid dissolution of uncross-linked gelatin. The line width resolution obtained during tests was .5 mm using a template treatment method and was limited by the template construction resolution. Finally, alteration in treatment time, rinsing agitation, and rinsing temperature yielded stable films that better retained their size and shape compared to films produced in previous processes.