Fugitive Inks for Direct-Write Assembly of Three-Dimensional Microvascular Networks


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge funding for this project provided by AFOSR Aerospace and Materials Science Directorate (Grant # F49620-03-1-0179), U.S. Department of Energy, Division of Materials Science under Award No. DEFG02-91ER45439 through the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory (UIUC), and the NSF Center for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures (Grant No. DMR-01-177792). The robotic deposition apparatus used in this work was designed and built by J. Cesarano, and the customized software for the 3D fabrication was developed by J. E. Smay. Partial support for D. Therriault was provided by the University of Illinois Nanoscience and Technology Center Fellowship and the government of Québec (NATEQ).


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Direct-write assembly of three- dimensional (3D) scaffolds that retain their shape during fabrication and subsequent infiltration with an epoxy matrix are made possible by a new fugitive ink based on a binary mixture of a microcrystalline wax and a lower molecular weight organic compound. Removal of the ink creates a 3D network of interconnected microchannels within the matrix (see Figure).