Generation of cell-laden hydrogel microspheres using 3D printing-enabled microfluidics

Sanika Suvarnapathaki, Rafael Ramos, Stephen W. Sawyer, Shannon McLoughlin, Andrew Ramos, Sarah Venn, Pranav Soman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


3D printing has been shown to be a robust and inexpensive manufacturing tool for a range of applications within biomedical science. Here we report the design and fabrication of a 3D printer-enabled microfluidic device used to generate cell-laden hydrogel microspheres of tunable sizes. An inverse mold was printed using a 3D printer, and replica molding was used to fabricate a PDMS microfluidic device. Intersecting channel geometry was used to generate perfluorodecalin oil-coated gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) microspheres of varying sizes (35-250 μm diameters). Process parameters such as viscosity profile and UV cross-linking times were determined for a range of GelMA concentrations (7-15% w/v). Empirical relationships between flow rates of GelMA and oil phases, microspheres size, and associated swelling properties were determined. For cell experiments, GelMA was mixed with human osteosarcoma Saos-2 cells, to generate cell-laden GelMA microspheres with high long-term viability. This simple, inexpensive method does not require the use of traditional cleanroom facilities and when combined with the appropriate flow setup is robust enough to yield tunable cell-laden hydrogel microspheres for potential tissue engineering applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2012-2018
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Research
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 27 2018


  • biomaterial
  • cellular (material form)
  • polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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