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Shear-Based Droplet Production for Biomaterial Printing

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The highly uniform shear forces at millimeter and smaller dimensions can produce monodisperse particles spontaneously during continuous flow of immiscible fluids. Microfluidic techniques have also recently been used to generate and organize arrays of solid monodisperse microparticles with various material properties. Combining these developments with a well-engineered “chip-to-world” interface will provide a new high-resolution 3-D printing technology for rapid prototyping and biotechnology.

We produced hydrogel droplets at rates of 10-200 Hz in PDMS microreactors. Droplets were monodisperse, with 50-200 micron diameter dependent on flow rate, channel shape and the presence of surfactants. Droplets may be dispensed from the chip in their liquid state, or solidified by one of three mechanisms. Ultraviolet (UV) light was used to solidify photosensitized hydrogels. We also discuss other hydrogel systems that are solidified by a chemical reaction (sodium alginate and CaCl2) or by thermal gelation (Pluronic F-127), methods to vary the droplets' chemical composition and mechanical properties, and methods for closed-loop electrical feedback on particle position for precision fabrication. Biocompatible hydrogels are of great interest for biomaterial applications such as drug delivery and tissue engineering.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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  • For more than 30 years, IS&T's series of digital printing conferences have been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in 2D and 3D printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference that brings together industry and academia, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems?particularly those involved with additive manufacturing and fabrication?including bio-printing, printed electronics, page-wide, drop-on-demand, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based systems, and production digital printing, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields. In 2016, the conference changed its name formally to Printing for Fabrication to better reflect the content of the meeting and the evolving technology of printing.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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