A large-deflection elasticity model was used to describe the mechanical behavior of cartilaginous tissues during three-point bending tests. Force-deflection curves were measured for 20-mm long × 4-mm wide × ≈1-mm thick strips of porcine auricular and costal cartilage. Using a least-squares method with elastic modulus in bending as the only adjustable parameter, data were fit to a model based on the von Karman theory for large deflection of plates. This model described the data well, with an average RMS error of 14.8% and an average R2 value of 0.98. Using this method, the bending modulus of auricular cartilage (4.6 MPa) was found to be statistically lower (p < 0.05) than that of costal cartilage (7.1 MPa). Material features of the cartilage samples influenced the mechanical behavior, including the orientation of the perichondrium in auricular cartilage. These methods also were used to determine the elastic moduli of engineered cartilage samples produced by seeding chondrocytes into fibrin glue. The modulus of tissue-engineered constructs increased statistically with time (p < 0.05), but still were statistically lower than the moduli of the native tissue samples (p > 0.05), reaching only about a third of the values of native samples.
Keywords: auricular cartilage; tissue engineering; biomechanics; soft‐tissue deformation; large‐deflection bending