Surface tension-assisted additive manufacturing.
The proliferation of computer-aided design and additive manufacturing enables on-demand fabrication of complex, three-dimensional structures. However, combining the versatility of cell-laden hydrogels within the 3D printing process remains a challenge. Herein, we describe a facile and versatile method that integrates polymer networks (including hydrogels) with 3D-printed mechanical supports to fabricate multicomponent (bio)materials. The approach exploits surface tension to coat fenestrated surfaces with suspended liquid films that can be transformed into solid films. The operating parameters for the process are determined using a physical model, and complex geometric structures are successfully fabricated. We engineer, by tailoring the window geometry, scaffolds with anisotropic mechanical properties that compress longitudinally (~30% strain) without damaging the hydrogel coating. Finally, the process is amenable to high cell density encapsulation and co-culture. Viability (>95%) was maintained 28 days after encapsulation. This general approach can generate biocompatible, macroscale devices with structural integrity and anisotropic mechanical properties.
Ragelle, H; Tibbitt, MW; Wu, S-Y; Castillo, MA; Cheng, GZ; Gangadharan, SP; Anderson, DG; Cima, MJ; Langer, R
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