- SPIE-INT SOC OPTICAL ENGINEERING
In the past decade, several high-strength gels have been developed, especially from Japan. These gels are expected to use as a kind of new engineering materials in the fields of industry and medical as substitutes to polyester fibers, which are materials of artificial blood vessels. We consider if various gel materials including such high-strength gels are 3D-printable, many new soft and wet systems will be developed since the most intricate shape gels can be printed regardless of the quite softness and brittleness of gels. Recently we have tried to develop an optical 3D gel printer to realize the free-form formation of gel materials. We named this apparatus Easy Realizer of Soft and Wet Industrial Materials (SWIM-ER). The SWIM-ER will be applied to print bespoke artificial organs, including artificial blood vessels, which will be possibly used for both surgery trainings and actual surgery. The SWIM-ER can print one of the world strongest gels, called Double-Network (DN) gels, by using UV irradiation through an optical fiber. Now we also are developing another type of 3D gel printer for foods, named E-Chef. We believe these new 3D gel printers will broaden the applications of soft-matter gels.
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