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Title: Additive Manufacturing of Biomechanically Tailored Meshes for Compliant Wearable and Implantable Devices

Additive manufacturing (AM) of medical devices such as orthopedic implants and hearing aids is highly attractive because of the potential of AM to match the complex form and mechanics of individual human bodies. Externally worn and implantable tissue‐support devices, such as ankle or knee braces, and hernia repair mesh, offer a new opportunity for AM to mimic tissue‐like mechanics and improve both patient outcomes and comfort. Here, it is demonstrated how explicit programming of the toolpath in an extrusion AM process can enable new, flexible mesh materials having digitally tailored mechanical properties and geometry. Meshes are fabricated by extrusion of thermoplastics, optionally with continuous fiber reinforcement, using a continuous toolpath that tailors the elasticity of unit cells of the mesh via incorporation of slack and modulation of filament–filament bonding. It is shown how the tensile mesh mechanics can be engineered to match the nonlinear response of muscle. An ankle brace with directionally specific inversion stiffness arising from embedded mesh is validated, and further concepts for 3D mesh devices are prototyped.

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Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Advanced Functional Materials
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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