Medical doctors use artificial blood vessels and organ models, which are usually made of plastic, to explain operations to
students, or patients awaiting treatment. However, there are some problems such as the high cost of making the model
and there is not a realistic feel because the model is hard. These problems can be solved using soft and wet material for
instance gel. Gels are materials with unique properties such as transparency, biocompatibility, and low friction. In recent
years, high strength gel has been developed and is expected to be applied in medical fields in the future. Artificial models
of gel can be produced by 3D gel printers. Our group has been developing a 3D gel printer with 1mm precision in
printing, but the shape, size and mechanical strength are not sufficient for medical models. In this study, we overcome
these problems and make a gel model which is transparent, mechanically strong with a fine shape. The strength and
molding accuracy is improved by changing and preparing the cross linker and ultraviolet absorber. We conducted
mechanical and molding tests to confirm that the gel material properties improved.
A 3D printer is a device which can directly produce objects whose shape is the same as the original 3D digital data.
Hydrogels have unique properties such as high water content, low frictional properties, biocompatibility, material
permeability and high transparency, which are rare in hard and dry materials. These superior characteristics of gels
promise useful medical applications. We have been working on the development of a 3D gel printer, SWIM-ER (Soft
and Wet Industrial – Easy Realizer), which can make models of organs and artificial blood vessels with gel material.
However, 3D printing has a problem: the mechanical properties of the printed object vary depending on printing
conditions, and this matter was investigated with SWIM-ER. In the past, we found that mechanical properties of 3D gel
objects depend on the deposition orientation in SWIM-ER. In this study, gels were printed with different laser scanning
speeds. The mechanical properties of these gels were investigated by compression tests, water content measurements and
SMILS (Scanning Microscopic Light Scattering).
Gels, soft and wet materials, have unique properties such as material permeability, biocompatibility and low friction, which are hardly found in hard and dry materials. These superior characteristics of hydrogels promise to expand the medical applications. In recent years, the optical 3D gel printer named SWIM-ER (Soft and Wet Industrial – Easy Realizer) was developed by our team in order to fabricate tough gels with free form. We are aiming to create artificial blood vessel of the gel material by 3D gel printer. Artificial blood vessel is expected to be used for vascular surgery practice. The artificial blood vessel made by 3D gel printer can be create to free form on the basis of the biological data of the patient. Therefore, we believe it is possible to contribute to increasing the success rate and safety of vascular surgery by creating artificial blood vessel with 3D gel printer. The modeling method of SWIM-ER is as follow. Pregel solution is polymerized by one-point UV irradiation with optical fiber. The irradiation area is controlled by computer program, so that exact 3D free forming is realized. In this study, synthesis conditions are re-examined in order to improve the degree of freedom of fabrication. The dimensional accuracy in height direction is improved by increasing the cross linker concentration. We examined the relationship of resolution to the pitch and UV irradiation time in order to improve the modeling accuracy.