Effect of stereolithography 3D printing on the properties of PEGDMA hydrogels.
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Stereolithography (SLA)-based 3D printing has proven to have several advantages over traditional fabrication techniques as it allows for the control of hydrogel synthesis at a very high resolution, making possible the creation of tissue-engineered devices with microarchitecture similar to the tissues they are replacing. Much of the previous work in hydrogels for tissue engineering applications have utilised the ultraviolet (UV) chamber bulk photopolymerisation method for preparing test specimens. Therefore, it is essential to directly compare SLA 3D printing to this more traditional approach to elucidate the differences in hydrogels prepared by each fabrication method. Polyethyleneglycol dimethacrylate (PEGDMA) is an ideally suited material for a comparative study of the impact that SLA fabrication has on performance, as the properties of traditional UV chambercured hydrogels have been extensively characterised. The present study was conducted to compare the material properties of PEGDMA hydrogels prepared using UV chamber photopolymerisation and SLA 3D printing. From the subsequent testing, SLA-fabricated hydrogels were shown to maintain similar thermal and chemical performance to UV chamber-cured hydrogels but had a higher compressive strength and tensile stiffness, as well as increased hydrophilicity. These differences are attributed to the increased exposure to UV light SLA samples received compared to traditionally UV chamber-cured samples.
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