Mask Projection Microstereolithography 3D Printing of Gelatin Methacrylate

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Virginia Tech


Gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) is a ubiquitous biocompatible photopolymer used in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine due to its cost-effective synthesis, tunable mechanical properties, and cellular response. Biotechnology applications utilizing GelMA have ranged from developing cell-laden hydrogel networks to cell encapsulation and additive manufacturing (3D printing). However, extrusion based 3D printing is the most common technique used with GelMA. Mask projection microstereolithography (MPµSL or µSL) is an advanced 3D printing technique that can produce geometries with high resolution, high complexity, and feature sizes unlike extrusion based printing. There are few biomaterials available for µSL applications, so 3D printing GelMA using µSL would not only add to the repertoire materials, but also demonstrate the advantages of µSL over other 3D printing techniques. A novel GelMA resin was tested with µSL to create a porous scaffold with a height and print time that has not been displayed in the literature before for a scaffold of this size. The resin consists of GelMA, deionized water, lithium phenyl-2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylphosphinate (LAP, photoinitiator), and 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone-5-sulfonic acid (sulisobenzone, UV blocker) and can be processed at room temperature. Four resins were tested (w/w %) and characterized for µSL printing: 20% GelMA 0.5% UV blocker, 20% GelMA 1.0% UV blocker, 30% GelMA 0.5% UV Blocker, and 30% GelMA 1.0% UV blocker. Swell testing, working curve, photo-rheology, photo-DSC (dynamic scanning calorimetry), 3D printing, and cell culture tests were performed and results showed that 30% GelMA 1.0% UV blocker had the best 3D print fidelity among resin compositions.



3D printing, gelatin methacrylate, stereolithography, biomaterials