Development and Characterization of Mechanically Robust, 3D-Printable Photopolymers

Thumbnail Image




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



3D printing has seen an explosion of interest and growth in recent years, especially within the biomedical space. Prized for its efficiency, ability to produce complex geometries, and facile material processing, additive manufacturing is rapidly being used to create medical devices ranging from orthopedic implants to tissue scaffolds. However, 3D printing is currently limited to a select few material choices, especially when one considers soft tissue replacement or augmentation. To this end, my research focuses on developing material systems that are simultaneously 1) 3D printable, 2) biocompatible, and 3) mechanically robust with properties appropriate for soft-tissue replacement or augmentation applications. Two systems were developed toward this goal: an interpenetrating network (IPN) hydrogel consisting of covalently crosslinked poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) and ionically crosslinked brown sodium alginate, and semi-crystalline thiol-ene photopolymers containing spiroacetal molecules in the polymer main-chain backbone. In addition to successfully being incorporated into existing 3D printing systems (extrusion-deposition for the PEGDA-alginate hydrogel and digital light processing for the thiol-ene polymers) both systems exhibited biocompatibility and superior thermomechanical properties such as tensile modulus, failure strain, and toughness. This work offers two fully-developed, novel polymer platforms with outstanding performance; further, structure-property relationships are highlighted and discussed on a molecular and morphological level to provide material insights that are useful to researchers and engineers in the design of highly tuned and mechanically robust polymers.





Sycks, Dalton (2017). Development and Characterization of Mechanically Robust, 3D-Printable Photopolymers. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.