3d printing cellulose hydrogels using laser induced thermal gelation

Tim Huber*, Don Clucas, Mathieu Vilmay, Birte Pupkes, James Stuart, Simone Dimartino, Conan Fee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A 3D printer was developed for the 3D printing of cellulose hydrogels using open source software and simple 3D printer hardware. Using a temperature-based sol-gel transition of cellulose dissolved in aqueous solutions of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and urea, a three-dimensional gel can be created by moving a focused laser beam across a bath of the cellulose solution and lowering the print stage after every layer. A line width of 100–150 µm and layer thickness of 25 µm of the printed part could be achieved. No delamination between printed layers occurred and no additional support material was needed to create free hanging structures due to suspending the printed part in printing liquid. By adding cellulose powder to the solution, the gelation temperature, the gel strength and stiffness can be manipulated while maintaining a high internal porosity of the gel. A laser power of 100 mW was found to produce the highest quality print with an accurate representation of the previously designed part. Lower power settings (80 mW) produced insufficient gelation and as a result reduced print accuracy while higher power settings (120 mW) caused the gel to burn.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalJournal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing
Issue number3
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jul 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • 3D printing
  • Cellulose
  • Hydrogel
  • Laser


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