3D printing of hydrogels : Rational design strategies and emerging biomedical applications

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number100543
Journal / PublicationMaterials Science and Engineering R: Reports
Online published18 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020



3D printing alias additive manufacturing can transform 3D virtual models created by computer-aided design (CAD) into physical 3D objects in a layer-by-layer manner dispensing with conventional molding or machining. Since the incipiency, significant advancements have been achieved in understanding the process of 3D printing and the relationship of component, structure, property and application of the created objects. Because hydrogels are one of the most feasible classes of ink materials for 3D printing and this field has been rapidly advancing, this Review focuses on hydrogel designs and development of advanced hydrogel-based biomaterial inks and bioinks for 3D printing. It covers 3D printing techniques including laser printing (stereolithography, two-photon polymerization), extrusion printing (3D plotting, direct ink writing), inkjet printing, 3D bioprinting, 4D printing and 4D bioprinting. It provides a comprehensive overview and discussion of the tailorability of material, mechanical, physical, chemical and biological properties of hydrogels to enable advanced hydrogel designs for 3D printing. The range of hydrogel-forming polymers covered encompasses biopolymers, synthetic polymers, polymer blends, nanocomposites, functional polymers, and cell-laden systems. The representative biomedical applications selected demonstrate how hydrogel-based 3D printing is being exploited in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, cancer research, in vitro disease modeling, high-throughput drug screening, surgical preparation, soft robotics and flexible wearable electronics. Incomparable by thermoplastics, thermosets, ceramics and metals, hydrogel-based 3D printing is playing a pivotal role in the design and creation of advanced functional (bio)systems in a customizable way. An outlook on future directions of hydrogel-based 3D printing is presented.

Research Area(s)

  • 3D bioprinting, 3D printing, Additive manufacturing, Biofabrication, Biomaterials, Hydrogels

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