3D Printing of PDMS Improves Its Mechanical and Cell Adhesion Properties

Despite extensive use of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) in medical applications, such as lab-on-a-chip or tissue/organ-on-a-chip devices, point-of-care devices, and biological machines, the manufacturing of PDMS devices is limited to soft-lithography and its derivatives, which prohibits the fabrication of geometrically complex shapes. With the recent advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing, use of PDMS for fabrication of such complex shapes has gained considerable interest. This research presents a detailed investigation on printability of PDMS elastomers over three concentrations for mechanical and cell adhesion studies. The results demonstrate that 3D printing of PDMS improved the mechanical properties of fabricated samples up to three fold compared to that of cast ones because of the decreased porosity of bubble entrapment. Most importantly, 3D printing facilitates the adhesion of breast cancer cells, whereas cast samples do not allow cellular adhesion without the use of additional coatings such as extracellular matrix proteins. Cells are able to adhere and grow in the grooves along the printed filaments demonstrating that 3D printed devices can be engineered with superior cell adhesion qualities compared to traditionally manufactured PDMS devices.