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Preparation of a photocurable hydrogel with adjustable mechanical properties for 3D printing

Yifan Xu (School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)
Xiang Gu (School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)
Qinghua Meng (School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)
Bin Wang (State Key Laboratory of Ocean Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)
Jun Fan (State Key Laboratory of Ocean Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 11 April 2021

Issue publication date: 4 June 2021

233

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to show a series of hydrogels with adjustable mechanical properties, which can be cured quickly with visible light. The hydrogel is prepared conveniently with hydroxyethyl acrylate, cross-linker, gelatin and photoinitiator, and can be printed into certain 3D patterns with the direct ink write (DIW) 3D printer designed and developed by the research group.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, the authors designed a composite sensitization initiation system that is suitable for hydrogels. The concentration of photoinitiator, gelatin and cross-linker was studied to optimize the curing efficiency and adjust the mechanical properties. A DIW 3D printer was designed for the printing of hydrogel. Pre-gel solution was loaded into printer for printing into established models. The models were made and sliced with software.

Findings

The hydrogels can be cured efficiently with 405-nm visible light. While adding various content of gelatin and cross-linker, the mechanical properties of hydrogels show from soft and fragile (elastic modulus of 121.18 kPa and work of tension of 218.11 kJ·m−3) to rigid and tough (elastic modulus of 505.15 kPa and work of tension of 969.00 kJ·m−3). The hydrogels have high capacity of water absorption. With the DIW 3D printer, pre-gel hydrogel solution can be printed into objects with certain dimension.

Originality/value

In this work, a composite sensitization initiation system was designed, and fast curing hydrogels with adjustable mechanical properties had been prepared conveniently, which has high equilibrium water content and 3D printability with the DIW 3D printer.

Keywords

Citation

Xu, Y., Gu, X., Meng, Q., Wang, B. and Fan, J. (2021), "Preparation of a photocurable hydrogel with adjustable mechanical properties for 3D printing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 797-807. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-03-2020-0053

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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