Microfluidics: A New Layer of Control for Extrusion-Based 3D Printing

Advances in 3D printing have enabled the use of this technology in a growing number of fields, and have started to spark the interest of biologists. Having the particularity of being cell friendly and allowing multimaterial deposition, extrusion-based 3D printing has been shown to be the method of choice for bioprinting. However as biologically relevant constructs often need to be of high resolution and high complexity, new methods are needed, to provide an improved level of control on the deposited biomaterials. In this paper, we demonstrate how microfluidics can be used to add functions to extrusion 3D printers, which widens their field of application. Micromixers can be added to print heads to perform the last-second mixing of multiple components just before resin dispensing, which can be used for the deposition of new polymeric or composite materials, as well as for bioprinting new materials with tailored properties. The integration of micro-concentrators in the print heads allows a significant increase in cell concentration in bioprinting. The addition of rapid microfluidic switching as well as resolution increase through flow focusing are also demonstrated. Those elementary implementations of microfluidic functions for 3D printing pave the way for more complex applications enabling new prospects in 3D printing.

Published in:
Micromachines, 9, 2, 86

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2018-02-26, last modified 2020-04-20

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