Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Zeyun Yu

Committee Members

Ichiro Suzuki, Dexuan Xie, Zhi Zheng, Rohit J Kate


3D Printing, Bio-scaffold, Porous Intervertebral Disc Design, Tissue Engineering


With the development and maturity of three-dimensional (3D) printing technology over the past decade, 3D printing has been widely investigated and applied in the field of tissue engineering to repair damaged tissues or organs, such as muscles, skin, and bones, Although a number of automated fabrication methods have been developed to create superior bio-scaffolds with specific surface properties and porosity, the major challenges still focus on how to fabricate 3D natural biodegradable scaffolds that have tailor properties such as intricate architecture, porosity, and interconnectivity in order to provide the needed structural integrity, strength, transport, and ideal microenvironment for cell- and tissue-growth. In this dissertation, a robust pipeline of fabricating bio-functional porous scaffolds of intervertebral discs based on different innovative porous design methodologies is illustrated. Firstly, a triply periodic minimal surface (TPMS) based parameterization method, which has overcome the integrity problem of traditional TPMS method, is presented in Chapter 3. Then, an implicit surface modeling (ISM) approach using tetrahedral implicit surface (TIS) is demonstrated and compared with the TPMS method in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, we present an advanced porous design method with higher flexibility using anisotropic radial basis function (ARBF) and volumetric meshes. Based on all these advanced porous design methods, the 3D model of a bio-functional porous intervertebral disc scaffold can be easily designed and its physical model can also be manufactured through 3D printing. However, due to the unique shape of each intervertebral disc and the intricate topological relationship between the intervertebral discs and the spine, the accurate localization and segmentation of dysfunctional discs are regarded as another obstacle to fabricating porous 3D disc models. To that end, we discuss in Chapter 6 a segmentation technique of intervertebral discs from CT-scanned medical images by using deep convolutional neural networks. Additionally, some examples of applying different porous designs on the segmented intervertebral disc models are demonstrated in Chapter 6.