The necessity for material advancements in tissue engineering and
regenerative medicine has grown exponentially since the birth of the field.
Applications found in biomedical avenues such as anatomical
replacement/support, extended drug delivery, and wound care require current
methods to blossom new techniques to better meet the needs of the future.
Among scaffold fabrication techniques used in biomedical applications,
electrospinning and additive manufacturing (AM) have received growing
interest, processes used to create nano- and microfibers, respectively.
Nanofibrous materials are advantageous due to their strength-to-weight
ratios, ease of fabrication, and, possibly most importantly, their striking
similarity to the natural extracellular matrix (ECM), while AM is capable of
producing scaffolds with highly controllable geometries. Further saliency to
the ECM can be attained by incorporation of hydrogels which have seen a
recent gain in attention due to their high water content and elasticity.
Hydrogels can be biocompatible, biodegradable, and bioreactive materials
that may be optimized for drug delivery and cellular response in tissue
engineering applications. Although seemingly ideal materials, hydrogels are
plagued by a lack of mechanical strength and rigidity due to the high water
content which can act as a plasticizer. Efforts have been made to remedy
this material limitation through many avenues including self-reinforcement
via crosslinking, nanoparticulates dispersion, and fibrous-phase addition.
In this review, we pay particular attention to fiber-reinforcement methods
as this technique serves to enhance both the mechanical and cellular
response of the composite. Finally, we review a novel technique for the
fabrication of fiber-reinforced hydrogel composites for biomedical