Two main challenges are currently present in the healthcare world, i.e., the limitations given by transplantation and the need to have available 3D in vitro models. In this context, bioreactors are devices that have been introduced in tissue engineering as a support for facing the mentioned challenges by mimicking the cellular native microenvironment through the application of physical stimuli. Bioreactors can be divided into two groups based on their final application: macro- and micro-bioreactors, which address the first and second challenge, respectively. The bioreactor design is a crucial step as it determines the way in which physical stimuli are provided to cells. It strongly depends on the manufacturing techniques chosen for the realization. In particular, in bioreactor prototyping, additive manufacturing techniques are widely used nowadays as they allow the fabrication of customized shapes, guaranteeing more degrees of freedom. To support the bioreactor design, a powerful tool is represented by computational simulations that allow to avoid useless approaches of trial-and-error. In the present review, we aim to discuss the general workflow that must be carried out to develop an optimal macro- and micro-bioreactor. Accordingly, we organize the discussion by addressing the following topics: general and stimulus-specific (i.e., perfusion, mechanical, and electrical) requirements that must be considered during the design phase based on the tissue target; computational models as support in designing bioreactors based on the provided stimulus; manufacturing techniques, with a special focus on additive manufacturing techniques; and finally, current applications and new trends in which bioreactors are involved.

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