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research-article

Deformation Compensation during Buoyancy-Enabled Inkjet Printing of 3D Soft Tubular Structures

[+] Author and Article Information
Kyle Christensen

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
kylewchristensen@gmail.com

Zhengyi Zhang

School of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, PR China
zhengyz@ufl.edu

Changxue Xu

Department of Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
changxue.xu@ttu.edu

Yong Huang

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
yongh@ufl.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4037996 History: Received December 28, 2016; Revised August 31, 2017

Abstract

Of various tissues being fabricated using bioprinting, three-dimensional (3D) soft tubular structures have often been the focus since they address the need for printable vasculature throughout a thick tissue and offer potential as perfusable platforms for biological studies. Drop-on-demand inkjetting has been favored as an effective technique to print such 3D soft tubular structures from various hydrogel bioinks. During the buoyancy-enabled inkjet fabrication of hydrogel-based soft tubular structures, they remain submerged in a solution which crosslinks the printed structures and provides a supporting buoyant force. However, because of the low stiffness of the structures, the structural deformation of printed tubes poses a significant challenge to the process effectiveness and efficiency. To overcome this structural deformation during buoyancy-enabled inkjet printing, predictive compensation approaches are developed to incorporate deformation allowance into the designed shape. Circumferential deformation is addressed by a four-zone approach which includes base, circular, vertical, and spanning zones for the determination of a designed cross section or compensated printing path. Axial deformation is addressed by the modification of the proposed circumferential compensation based on the distance of a given cross section to the junction of a branching tube. These approaches are found to enable the successful fabrication of straight and branching alginate tubular structures with nearly ideal geometry, providing a good foundation for the wide implementation of the buoyancy-enabled inkjetting technique. While inkjetting is studied here as a model bioprinting process, the resulting knowledge also applies to other buoyancy-enabled bioprinting techniques.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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