3D Printing Liquid Crystal Elastomers to Mimic Human Tissue
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3D Printing Liquid Crystal Elastomers to Mimic Human Tissue

3D Printing Liquid Crystal Elastomers to Mimic Human Tissue

Organic tissues are wonderful supplies. Through the years, our organic tissues mature and alter to allow them to present precisely what’s wanted for his or her particular person perform, like how elastic cartilage can resist compression however cushion our joints on the similar time. As mere mortals, it’s robust to manufacture artificial replacements that mimic what our organic tissues are able to, however 3D printing may also help. A staff of scientists from College of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) have succeeded in making a 3D printing materials that may replicate the properties of human tissue, and revealed their leads to a paper titled “Liquid‐Crystal‐Elastomer‐Primarily based Dissipative Constructions by Digital Mild Processing 3D Printing.”

The important thing to their success is liquid crystal elastomers, or LCEs:

“Digital Mild Processing (DLP) 3D printing allows the creation of hierarchical advanced buildings with particular micro‐ and macroscopic architectures which might be unattainable to attain by means of conventional manufacturing strategies,” the summary states. “Right here, this hierarchy is prolonged to the mesoscopic size scale for optimized units that dissipate mechanical vitality. A photocurable, thus DLP‐printable primary‐chain liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) resin is reported and used to print quite a lot of advanced, excessive‐decision vitality‐dissipative units. Utilizing compressive mechanical testing, the stress–pressure responses of 3D‐printed LCE lattice buildings are proven to have 12 occasions better charge‐dependence and as much as 27 occasions better pressure–vitality dissipation in comparison with these printed from a commercially obtainable photocurable elastomer resin. The reported behaviors of those buildings present additional perception into the a lot‐ignored vitality‐dissipation properties of LCEs and might encourage the event of excessive‐vitality‐absorbing machine purposes.”

The staff is led by CU Denver mechanical engineer professor Chris Yakacki, PhD, and contains doctoral pupil Nicholas Traugutt; postdoctoral fellow Devesh Mistry, PhD; Chaoqian Luo; professor Kai Yu, PhD; and Qi Ge with the Southern College of Science and Know-how in China. These scientists are reportedly the primary to make use of LCEs to 3D print advanced, porous lattice buildings, which can be utilized to construct artificial units that mimic organic tissues, like cartilage.

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“Everybody’s heard of liquid crystals since you stare at them in your telephone show. And also you’ve possible heard of liquid crystal polymers as a result of that’s precisely what Kevlar is,” defined Yakacki. “Our problem was to get them into comfortable polymers, like elastomers, to make use of them as shock absorbers. That’s if you go down the layers of complexity.”

It’s robust to control multifunctional LCEs, that are comfortable, elastic supplies that may dissipate excessive vitality very well. Prior to now, researchers might solely use LCEs to make practically microscopic buildings with excessive element, or bigger objects with low element. However what the world actually wants are large units with excessive decision and element, which is now lastly attainable due to the CU Denver staff.

Yakacki works within the college’s Good Supplies and Biomechanics (SMAB) Lab, and has labored with LCEs since 2012, even receiving an NSF CAREER award in 2018 to rework how manufacturable LCEs are, together with a number of funding rounds to develop the fabric right into a soccer helmet shock absorber. For this analysis, which was supported by the Laboratory Directed Analysis and Improvement program at Sandia Nationwide Laboratories, the US Military Analysis Laboratory, and US Military Analysis Workplace, the staff used digital mild processing (DLP) know-how.

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The motivation: dissipation managed throughout size scales from the resin chemistry (mesoscale), to the microscale lattice structure, and the general macrostructure of printed buildings.

They created a liquid crystal resin, just like honey, that generates new bonds within the type of photopolymer layers when cured with ultraviolet mild. The cured resin creates a compliant elastomer that’s each comfortable and robust, and begins to imitate cartilage when it’s 3D printed in a lattice construction.

“Compressive stress-strain testing recognized a number of benefits that DLP 3D-printed LCEs have in comparison with conventional elastomers. First, print orientation doesn’t considerably affect mechanical properties of stable buildings, seen by the isotropic properties of the stable LCE construction,” the researchers wrote. “Our LCE resin was designed to be manufactured and used inside 24 hours; due to this fact, it doesn’t have added inhibitors to offer longer shelf life. Photoabsorptive dye is used minimally to stop over-curing throughout printing, not shade.”

3D Printing Liquid Crystal Elastomers to Mimic Human Tissue 3

(a) Consultant DSC plot of a DLP printed LCE. Photos of a printed lotus flower pattern in nematic and isotropic states are proven on respective sides relative to Ti on the curve. (b) Consultant DMA plots of the DLP printed LCE and TangoBlack pattern displaying loss and storage modulus, in addition to the loss ratio (tan δ).

Utilizing their resin and a customized DLP printer, the staff 3D printed a number of buildings, resembling a small lotus flower and a spinal fusion cage prototype, each of which had loads of element. Moreover, combining DLP printing and the resin resulted in a rate-dependence that was 12 occasions better, and a strain-energy dissipation as much as 27 occasions better, compared to buildings 3D printed out of Tango Black Plus, a commercially obtainable photocurable elastomer resin.

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(a) DLP printed LCE and TangoBlack stable dice buildings have been examined underneath uniaxial compressive loading and stress responses have been noticed. (b) Stress values at 50% pressure have been noticed to quantify rate-dependence for the 2 supplies.

Along with shock-absorbing soccer helmets, these DLP printed LCE buildings might have many different purposes as effectively, resembling small biomedical implants for toes and spinal units.

“The backbone is filled with challenges and it’s a tough downside to resolve. Folks have tried making artificial spinal tissue discs they usually haven’t performed a great job of it,” Yakacki mentioned. “With 3D printing, and the excessive decision we’ve gotten from it, you’ll be able to match an individual’s anatomy precisely. Sooner or later, we could possibly develop cells to repair the backbone, however for now, we will take a step ahead with the following technology of supplies. That’s the place we’d prefer to go.”

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(Supply: Lab Supervisor / Photos: College of Colorado Denver)

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