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Researchers show high-speed stereolithography of hydrogels

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High-speed photopolymerization processes are now becoming established in the AM industry. Hydrogel 3D printing by stereolithography is now commonplace in the bioprinting segment. A team from the University of Buffalo combined both processes to obtain high-speed stereolithography of hydrogels, a process that they think could prove instrumental in 3D printing organs and tissues.

In a demonstration video, the researchers showed a hand measuring several centimeters being printed in 19 minutes. The hand, which would take six hours to create using conventional 3D printing and bioprinting methods, demonstrates what University at Buffalo engineers say is progress toward 3D printed human tissue and organs

igh-speed stereolithography of hydrogel materials
Researchers made a series of small-scale models of the 3D-printed hand, as well as other figures. Credit: University at Buffalo.

“The technology we’ve developed is 10-50 times faster than the industry standard, and it works with large sample sizes that have been very difficult to achieve previously,” said the study’s co-lead author Ruogang Zhao, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

The work is described in a study published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. It centers on using stereolithography to rapidly 3D print hydrogels, which are used to create, among other things, to produce scaffolds in tissue engineering.

high-speed stereolithography of hydrogel materials
Researchers also 3D printed a human liver model that includes a vascular network

“Our method allows for the rapid printing of centimeter-sized hydrogel models. It significantly reduces part deformation and cellular injuries caused by the prolonged exposure to the environmental stresses you commonly see in conventional 3D printing methods,” said the study’s other co-lead author, Chi Zhou, PhD, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.

Researchers say the method is particularly suitable for printing cells with embedded blood vessel networks, a nascent technology expected to be a central part of the production of 3D printed human tissue and organs. Researchers have filed a provisional patent of the technology, and they formed a startup company, Float3D, to commercialize it.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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