The mechanical, thermal, and morphological properties of a 3D porous Pennisetum purpureum (PP)/polylactic acid (PLA) based scaffold were investigated. In this study, a scaffold containing P. purpureum and PLA was produced using the solvent casting and particulate leaching method. P. purpureum fibre, also locally known as Napier grass, is composed of 46% cellulose, 34% hemicellulose, and 20% lignin. PLA composites with various P. purpureum contents (10%, 20%, and 30%) were prepared and subsequently characterised. The morphologies, structures and thermal behaviours of the prepared composite scaffolds were characterised using field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The morphology was studied using FESEM; the scaffold possessed 70-200μm-sized pores with a high level of interconnectivity. The moisture content and mechanical properties of the developed porous scaffolds were further characterised. The P. purpureum/PLA scaffold had a greater porosity factor (99%) and compression modulus (5.25MPa) than those of the pure PLA scaffold (1.73MPa). From the results, it can be concluded that the properties of the highly porous P. purpureum/PLA scaffold developed in this study can be controlled and optimised. This can be used to facilitate the construction of implantable tissue-engineered cartilage.
The in vitro degradation and mechanical properties of a 3D porous Pennisetum purpureum (PP)/polylactic acid (PLA)-based scaffold were investigated. In this study, composite scaffolds with PP to PLA ratios of 0%, 10%, 20%, and 30% were immersed in a PBS solution at 37°C for 40 days. Compression tests were conducted to evaluate the compressive strength and modulus of the scaffolds, according to ASTM F451-95. The compression strength of the scaffolds was found to increase from 1.94 to 9.32MPa, while the compressive modulus increased from 1.73 to 5.25MPa as the fillers' content increased from 0wt% to 30wt%. Moreover, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and X-ray diffraction were employed to observe and analyse the microstructure and fibre-matrix interface. Interestingly, the degradation rate was reduced for the PLA/PP20scaffold, though insignificantly, this could be attributed to the improved mechanical properties and stronger fibre-matrix interface. Microstructure changes after degradation were observed using FESEM. The FESEM results indicated that a strong fibre-matrix interface was formed in the PLA/PP20scaffold, which reflected the addition of P. purpureum into PLA decreasing the degradation rate compared to in pure PLA scaffolds. The results suggest that the P. purpureum/PLA scaffold degradation rate can be altered and controlled to meet requirements imposed by a given tissue engineering application.