Research Papers

Deformation Compensation During Buoyancy-Enabled Inkjet Printing of Three-Dimensional Soft Tubular Structures

[+] Author and Article Information
Kyle Christensen

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611

Zhengyi Zhang

School of Naval Architecture
and Ocean Engineering,
Huazhong University of Science and Technology,
Wuhan 430074, China

Changxue Xu

Department of Industrial, Manufacturing,
and Systems Engineering,
Texas Tech University,
Lubbock, TX 79409

Yong Huang

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611;
Department of Biomedical Engineering,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611
e-mail: yongh@ufl.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received December 28, 2016; final manuscript received August 31, 2017; published online November 17, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Sam Anand.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 140(1), 011011 (Nov 17, 2017) (10 pages) Paper No: MANU-16-1683; doi: 10.1115/1.4037996 History: Received December 28, 2016; Revised August 31, 2017

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 herein as a model bioprinting process, the resulting knowledge also applies to other buoyancy-enabled bioprinting techniques.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Illustration of a representative buoyancy-enabled inkjet bioprinting approach

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Cross-sectional view of layer deposition: (a) prior to layer deposition, the tube is supported by the buoyant force and remains at the solution surface because of the surface tension effect, (b) as a layer is printed, the preexisting structure deforms downward and is compressed beneath the surface, and (c) the substrate is then lowered by the layer thickness, effectively stretching the structure vertically: (a) the structure is ready for a new layer to be deposited; (b) the preexisting structure is compressed and deformed entirely below the solution surface as the layer is built up; (c) surface of a newly printed layer remains at the solution surface as the platform is lowered, stretching the tube vertically

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Illustration of structural deformation types of horizontal tubes: (a) circumferential, (b) axial (straight tube), and (c) axial (branching tube) occurring during printing

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Deflection of a curved beam representing the deformation of a tubular cross section during printing

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Illustration of four distinct zones for deformation compensation: (a) a base zone with additional layers (small Lx) to prevent gaps in the structure. Uncompensated layer locations are shown inset with Lx defined as the x distance between the centers of two consecutive layers, (b) a circular zone as no substantial deformation is observed in this zone, (c) a vertical zone to increase the overall height of the tubular structure (Lx = 0), and (d) a spanning zone with large Lx to compensate for increased deformation occurring in this zone.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

(a) CAD design of a partially complete horizontal branching structure, (b) illustration of the variation in resistance to inward bending deformation, or effective stiffness, along the longitudinal axis of the tube and at the junction, (c) and (d) resulting shape of a horizontal branching structure because of the variation in stiffness without and with compensation, respectively, and (e) illustration of axial compensation algorithm

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

(a) Deformed cross section of a horizontal tube without compensation, (b) designed cross section or compensated printing path with layer locations plotted, and (c) resulting circular cross section after compensation

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

(a) Designed cross section or compensated printing path at the junction (l = 0) with layer locations plotted after incorporating circumferential and axial deformation compensation and (b) projected printing paths incorporating the proposed compensation approaches

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Horizontal branching tubular structure printed after the incorporation of circumferential and axial deformation compensation (scale bars: 3 mm)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Roundness R and width ratio W metrics for the evaluation of (a, b) circumferential compensation and (c, d) axial compensation results, respectively



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