High strength gels have expanded the possibilities of polymer gels as industrial materials. However it is difficult to make arbitrary form gel with cutting process. To overcome this problem, we developed 3D gel printing system named “Soft and Wet Intelligent Matter –Easy Realizer (SWIM-ER)” which can apply free forming fabrication to photopolymerization gels.
SWIM-ER is a three-dimensional optical fabrication system for gels by making full use of a laser and an optical fiber. UV irradiation from an optical fiber employ local and short time polymerization of photoreaction pre-gel solution. Fiber tip position, XYZ, is well controlled by computer program and it enable layer by layer fabrication. This fabrication method can be applied to high strength gels, shape memory gels and other high performance gels.
3D gel printing show promise as an outstanding method to design new gel application such as medical materials, actuators and other Soft and Wet Intelligent Materials.