Technique prints soft biomaterials. (Credit: University of Birmingham)

A new technique could be used to print soft biomaterials that could be used to repair defects in the body. The method offers an alternative to existing techniques that use gels that have been minced to form a slurry bath into which the printed material is injected. Called Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH), these materials offer many advantages, but friction within the gel medium can distort the printing.

The researchers show how particles in the gel they have developed can be sheared or twisted so that they separate, but still retain some connection between them. This interaction creates the self-healing effect, enabling the gel to support the printed material so that objects can be built with precise detail, without leaking or sagging. The technique can also be used to create objects made from two or more different materials so it could be used to make even more complex soft tissue types, or drug-delivery devices, where different rates of release are required.

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Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2019 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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