Hydrogels are promising materials for bioengineering applications, and are good model materials for the study of hydrated biological tissues. As these materials often have a structural function, the measurement of their mechanical properties is of fundamental importance. In the present study gelatin gels reinforced with ceramic microspheres are produced and their poroviscoelastic response in spherical indentation is studied. The constitutive responses of unreinforced gels are determined using inverse finite element modeling in combination with analytical estimates of material parameters. The behavior of composite gels is assessed by both analytical and numerical homogenization. The results of the identification of the constitutive parameters of unreinforced gels show that it is possible to obtain representative poroviscoelastic parameters by spherical indentation without the need for additional mechanical tests. The agreement between experimental results on composite gelatin and the predictions from homogenization modeling show that the adopted modeling tools are capable of providing estimates of the poroviscoelastic response of particle-reinforced hydrogels.
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