FEIT Research Project Database

Hydrogels for efficient 3D printing of hierarchical biomimetic structures

Project Leader: Andrea O'Connor
Staff: Brooke Farrugia
Collaborators: Khoon Lim
Primary Contact: Andrea O'Connor (a.oconnor@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: 3D printing; biomaterials; biomimicry ; hydrogel; polymeric materials
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering


3D constructs that mimic the properties of biological tissues are desired for many applications, including as surgical models, cell growth supports, and for engineering replacement tissues. 3D printing is a rapidly evolving field with great versatility. However, most commercial 3D printing technologies have been developed using hard polymers, like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and polylactic acid, that do not mimic the majority biological tissues well. Tissues and organs have complex 3D architectures with different components having different physicochemical properties including non-linear and spatially varying mechanics. There is a growing need for the development of tuneable soft hydrated materials, like hydrogels, compatible with 3D printing technologies, to enable us to create and tailor more lifelike 3D constructs at increased throughput and reduced cost.

This project will focus on developing materials and methods to create 3D hydrogel constructs with spatially controlled mechanical properties to better mimic human tissues. To enable future translation of these materials, the project will explore the synthesis and chemical modification of low-cost inks and suitable 3D printing methods to enable efficient production of biomimetic hydrogel structures.

This project involves collaboration engineers, scientists and clinicals at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Otago, New Zealand and the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery, ACMD.

Further information: https://biomedical.eng.unimelb.edu.au/tissue-engineering https://www.acmd.org.au/