Room temperature 3D printing of super-soft and solvent-free elastomers

TitleRoom temperature 3D printing of super-soft and solvent-free elastomers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsXie, Renxuan, Sanjoy Mukherjee, Adam E. Levi, Veronica G. Reynolds, Hengbin Wang, Michael L. Chabinyc, and Christopher M. Bates
JournalScience Advances

Super-soft elastomers derived from bottlebrush polymers show promise as advanced materials for biomimetic tissue and device applications, but current processing strategies are restricted to simple molding. Here, we introduce a design concept that enables the three-dimensional (3D) printing of super-soft and solvent-free bottlebrush elastomers at room temperature. The key advance is a class of inks comprising statistical bottlebrush polymers that self-assemble into well-ordered body-centered cubic sphere phases. These soft solids undergo sharp and reversible yielding at 20°C in response to shear with a yield stress that can be tuned by manipulating the length scale of microphase separation. The addition of a soluble photocrosslinker allows complete ultraviolet curing after extrusion to form super-soft elastomers with near-perfect recoverable elasticity well beyond the yield strain. These structure–property design rules create exciting opportunities to tailor the performance of 3D-printed elastomers in ways that are not possible with current materials and processes.