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3D printing enables separation of orthogonal functions within a hydrogel particle


Multifunctional particles with distinct physiochemical phases are required by a variety of applications in biomedical engineering, such as diagnostic imaging and targeted drug delivery. This motivates the development of a repeatable, efficient, and customizable approach to manufacturing particles with spatially segregated bioactive moieties. This study demonstrates a stereolithographic 3D printing approach for designing and fabricating large arrays of biphasic poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) gel particles. The fabrication parameters governing the physical and biochemical properties of multi-layered particles are thoroughly investigated, yielding a readily tunable approach to manufacturing customizable arrays of multifunctional particles. The advantage in spatially organizing functional epitopes is examined by loading superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) and bovine serum albumin (BSA) in separate layers of biphasic PEGDA gel particles and examining SPION-induced magnetic resonance (MR) contrast and BSA-release kinetics. Particles with spatial segregation of functional moieties have demonstrably higher MR contrast and BSA release. Overall, this study will contribute significant knowledge to the preparation of multifunctional particles for use as biomedical tools.

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We acknowledge Boris Odintsov for his assistance in MR imaging. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center EBICS (Grant CBET-0939511) and National Institute of Health (1R01 HL109192 to H.K). R.R was funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (Grant DGE-1144245) and NSF CMMB IGERT at UIUC (Grant 0965918). N.C. was funded by a Dow Graduate Fellowship.

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Correspondence to Rashid Bashir.

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Ritu Raman and Nicholas Clay contributed equally to this work.

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Fig. S1

a Example of a 30 % PEGDA 700 g mol−1 disc-shaped hydrogel particle formed by changing the CAD file sent to the stereolithographic 3D printer, showing the versatility and customizability of this rapid fabrication approach. Scale bar corresponds to 500 μm. b Example of a 30 % PEGDA 400 g mol−1 “matchstick” hydrogel particle formed by varying the energy dose applied for each layer during fabrication, resulting in significantly different thicknesses in each of the two layers. Scale bar corresponds to 500 μm. (JPEG 268 kb)

Fig. S2

a Schematic of cross-linking in pure PEGDA hydrogels. b Schematic of cross-linking in hydrogels containing a mix of PEGDA and alginate methacrylate. (JPEG 287 kb)

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Raman, R., Clay, N.E., Sen, S. et al. 3D printing enables separation of orthogonal functions within a hydrogel particle. Biomed Microdevices 18, 49 (2016).

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  • Hydrogel
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Stereolithography
  • 3D printing
  • Biomaterial