Tubular structures of hydrogel are used in a variety of applications such as 3D cell culturing for delivery of nutrient supplies. The wall thickness of the tube determines the speed of diffusion or delivery rate. In this study, we aimed to fabricate tubular structures with varying of wall thicknesses using a thermal-crosslinking hydrogel, gellan gum, with the coaxial needle approach. The wall thickness is controlled by changing the flow rate ratio between the inner (phosphate-buffered saline) and outer needles (gellan gum). A simulation model was developed to estimate the proper extrusion speed to allow the gellan gum to be extruded around its glass transition temperature. While keeping the extrusion rate of gellan gum fixed, different PBS extrusion rates were tested to investigate the printability to form continuous tubular structures, range of printable wall thickness, and possibility to form tubes with closed ends to encapsulate fluid or drug inside the tube. The ranges of printable wall thickness with two pairs of coaxial needle were identified. It was found that at about 200% of the baseline PBS extrusion speed, a maximum of 20% difference in wall thickness can be achieved, while a close end can still be formed.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.