Hydrogel 3-D printing and patterning liquids with the capacitor edge effect (PLEEC)

phys.org | 3/26/2019 | Staff
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Hydrogels are three-dimensional (3-D) polymer networks that can retain large quantities of water in their swollen states for wide applications in bioengineering and materials sciences. Advanced hydrogel fabrication techniques are in development to meet user-specified requirements with substantial constraints placed on the physical and chemical properties of hydrogel precursors and printed structures. In a recent study, Jikun Wang and co-workers at the State Key Lab for Strength and Vibration of Mechanical Structures, Department of Engineering Mechanics, in China, proposed a new method of patterning liquids with the capacitor edge effect (PLEEC). The results are now published in Science Advances.

Using the new patterning method, Wang et al. accomplished a resolution of 100 µm, while also allowing them to establish a complete 3-D printing system that combined patterning and stacking processes. The technique can be applied to a wide variety of hydrogels to overcome existing limits. In the work, the scientists demonstrated printed hydrogel structures including a hydrogel scaffold, a thermoresponsive hydrogel composite and an ionic high-integrity hydrogel display device. The proposed technique can offer rapid prototyping hydrogel devices with multiple compositions and complex geometries.

Manufacture - Printing - Tool - Architectures - Methods

Additive manufacture or 3-D printing is an effective tool to engineer highly structured, interconnected and porous architectures compared to conventional methods of casting, photomasking and electrospinning. Researchers have previously used 3-D printing to create highly porous hydrogel scaffolds for cell cultures, as biomimetic microchips to study disease, build artificial heterogeneous tissues in regenerative medicine and as biocompatible organs with high geometric precision. 3-D hydrogels are also used to build conductive composites for soft robotics. In particular, computer-aided design (CAD) in 3-D printing is suited to build highly programmed and user-specified hydrogel structures for applications in tissue engineering.

Previously established methods for hydrogel printing conventionally include digital projection lithography (DLP), stereolithography (SLA) and direct ink writing (DIW). However, such methods...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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