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A novel thermoplastic polyurethane scaffold fabrication method based on injection foaming with water and supercritical carbon dioxide as coblowing agents

Authors

  • Hao-Yang Mi,

    1. National Engineering Research Center of Novel Equipment for Polymer Processing, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
    2. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
    3. Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
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  • Xin Jing,

    1. National Engineering Research Center of Novel Equipment for Polymer Processing, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
    2. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
    3. Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
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  • Max R. Salick,

    1. Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
    2. Department of Engineering Physics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
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  • Xiang-Fang Peng,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Engineering Research Center of Novel Equipment for Polymer Processing, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
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  • Lih-Sheng Turng

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
    2. Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
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Abstract

Injection foaming is an method for mass producing lightweight, foamed plastic components with excellent dimensional stability while using less material and energy. In this study, a novel injection foaming method employing supercritical CO2 (scCO2) and water as coblowing agents was developed to produce thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) components with a uniform porous structure and no solid skin. Various characterization techniques were employed to investigate the cell morphology, crystallization behavior, and static and dynamic mechanical properties of solid injection molded samples, foamed samples using CO2 or water as a single blowing agent, and foamed samples using both CO2 and water as coblowing agents. When compared with CO2 foamed samples, samples produced by the coblowing method exhibited much more uniform cell morphologies without a noticeable reduction in mechanical properties. Moreover, these TPU samples had almost no skin layer, which permitted the free transport of nutrients and waste throughout the samples. Such a mass-produced, skin-free structure is desirable in tissue engineering. In this study, the biocompatibility of the scaffolds was confirmed and the effect of these blowing agents on the TPU foaming behavior was studied. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 54:2947–2957, 2014. © 2014 Society of Plastics Engineers

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