Printing 3D Hydrogel Structures Employing Low-Cost Stereolithography Technology

J Funct Biomater. 2020 Feb 22;11(1):12. doi: 10.3390/jfb11010012.


Stereolithography technology associated with the employment of photocrosslinkable, biocompatible, and bioactive hydrogels have been widely used. This method enables 3D microfabrication from images created by computer programs and allows researchers to design various complex models for tissue engineering applications. This study presents a simple and fast home-made stereolithography system developed to print layer-by-layer structures. Polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) and gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogels were employed as the photocrosslinkable polymers in various concentrations. Three-dimensional (3D) constructions were obtained by using the stereolithography technique assembled from a commercial projector, which emphasizes the low cost and efficiency of the technique. Lithium phenyl-2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl phosphonate (LAP) was used as a photoinitiator, and a 404 nm laser source was used to promote the crosslinking. Three-dimensional and vascularized structures with more than 5 layers and resolutions between 42 and 83 µm were printed. The 3D printed complex structures highlight the potential of this low-cost stereolithography technique as a great tool in tissue engineering studies, as an alternative to bioprint miniaturized models, simulate vital and pathological functions, and even for analyzing the actions of drugs in the human body.

Keywords: 3D printing; GelMA; PEGDA.; bioprinting; hydrogels; stereolithography.