Alginate-Based Rapid Prototyping System
Alginate hydrogels are an import class of ionic biopolymers for medical and biotechnological applications, produced by the combination of alginate with a proper cross-linking agent. During the gel formation, cross-links can be formed between the alginate chains and cationic species, changing the elastic behaviour of the material that controls the volume change phenomena of the gels. This paper proposes a new rapid prototyping system to produce three-dimensional alginate structures by extruding, layer-by-layer, a previously prepared solution of sodium alginate in water mixed with a solution of calcium chloride, both of known concentration. The building process to obtain these gel structures is described, from a chemical point of view, and some obtained structures are shown. The alginate concentration over both the kinetics and accuracy effects of the process is investigated. The preliminary findings of this research work promise to open an exciting new area for medical applications.