Friction of sodium alginate hydrogel scaffold fabricated by 3-D printing

<p>A rapid prototyping technology, formed by three-dimensional (3-D) printing and then crosslinked by spraying Ca<sup>2+</sup> solution, is developed to fabricate a sodium alginate (SA) hydrogel scaffold. The porosity, swelling ratio, and compression modulus of the scaffold are investigated. A friction mechanism is developed by studying the reproducible friction behavior. Our results show that the scaffold can have 3-D structure with a porosity of 52%. The degree of swelling of the SA hydrogel scaffold is 8.5, which is nearly the same as bulk SA hydrogel. SA hydrogel exhibits better compressive resilience than bulk hydrogel despite its lower compressive modulus compared to bulk hydrogel. The SA hydrogel scaffold exhibits a higher frictional force at low sliding velocity (10<sup>−6</sup> to 10<sup>−3</sup> m/s) compared to bulk SA hydrogel, and they are equal at high sliding velocity (10<sup>−2</sup> to 1 m/s). For a small pressure (0.3 kPa), the SA hydrogel scaffold shows good friction reproducibility. In contrast, bulk SA hydrogel shows poor reproducibility with respect to friction behavior. The differences in friction behaviors between the SA hydrogel scaffold and bulk SA hydrogel are related to the structure of the scaffold, which can keep a stable hydrated lubrication layer.</p>