Self-healing hydrogels may mimic the behavior of living tissues, which can autonomously repair minor damages, and therefore have a high potential for application in biomedicine. So far, such hydrogels have been processed only via extrusion-based additive manufacturing technology, limited in freedom of design and resolution. Herein, we present 3D-printed hydrogel with self-healing ability, fabricated using only commercially available materials and a commercial Digital Light Processing printer. These hydrogels are based on a semi-interpenetrated polymeric network, enabling self-repair of the printed objects. The autonomous restoration occurs rapidly, at room temperature, and without any external trigger. After rejoining, the samples can withstand deformation and recovered 72% of their initial strength after 12 hours. The proposed approach enables 3D printing of self-healing hydrogels objects with complex architecture, paving the way for future applications in diverse fields, ranging from soft robotics to energy storage.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Compagnia di San Paolo through the funding scheme “Joint Project with Top Universities”. Financial support was also provided from DEFLeCT project funded by Regione Piemonte POR-FESR 2014–2020. The authors would like to thank also Gaia Di Martino for her technical support.
© 2021, The Author(s).