Cryogenic 3D Printing of Super Soft Hydrogels

Zhengchu Tan, Cristian Parisi, Lucy Di Silvio, Daniele Dini, Antonio Elia Forte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)
199 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Conventional 3D bioprinting allows fabrication of 3D scaffolds for biomedical applications. In this contribution we present a cryogenic 3D printing method able to produce stable 3D structures by utilising the liquid to solid phase change of a composite hydrogel (CH) ink. This is achieved by rapidly cooling the ink solution below its freezing point using solid carbon dioxide (CO2) in an isopropanol bath. The setup was able to successfully create 3D complex geometrical structures, with an average compressive stiffness of O(1) kPa (0.49 ± 0.04 kPa stress at 30% compressive strain) and therefore mimics the mechanical properties of the softest tissues found in the human body (e.g. brain and lung). The method was further validated by showing that the 3D printed material was well matched to the cast-moulded equivalent in terms of mechanical properties and microstructure. A preliminary biological evaluation on the 3D printed material, coated with collagen type I, poly-L-lysine and gelatine, was performed by seeding human dermal fibroblasts. Cells showed good attachment and viability on the collagen-coated 3D printed CH. This greatly widens the range of applications for the cryogenically 3D printed CH structures, from soft tissue phantoms for surgical training and simulations to mechanobiology and tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16668
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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