Digital light 4D printing of bioresorbable shape memory elastomers for personalized biomedical implantation

Alireza Mahjoubnia, Dunpeng Cai, Yuchao Wu, Skylar D. King, Pooya Torkian, Andy C. Chen, Reza Talaie, Shi You Chen, Jian Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Four-dimensional (4D) printing unlocks new potentials for personalized biomedical implantation, but still with hurdles of lacking suitable materials. Herein, we demonstrate a bioresorbable shape memory elastomer (SME) with high elasticity at both below and above its phase transition temperature (Ttrans). This SME can be digital light 3D printed by co-polymerizing glycerol dodecanoate acrylate prepolymer (pre-PGDA) with acrylic acid monomer to form crosslinked Poly(glycerol dodecanoate acrylate) (PGDA)-Polyacrylic acid (PAA), or PGDA-PAA network. The printed complex, free-standing 3D structures with high-resolution features exhibit shape programming properties at a physiological temperature. By tuning the pre-PGDA weight ratios between 55 wt% and 70 wt%, Ttrans varies between 39.2 and 47.2 ℃ while Young's moduli (E) range 40–170 MPa below Ttrans with fractural strain (εf) of 170 %-200 %. Above Ttrans, E drops to 1–1.82 MPa which is close to those of soft tissue. Strikingly, εf of 130–180 % is still maintained. In vitro biocompatibility test on the material shows > 90 % cell proliferation and great cell attachment. In vivo vascular grafting trials underline the geometrical and mechanical adaptability of these 4D printed constructs in regenerating the aorta tissue. Biodegradation of the implants shows the possibility of their full replacement by natural tissue over time. To highlight its potential for personalized medicine, a patient-specific left atrial appendage (LAA) occluder was printed and implanted endovascularly into an in vitro heart model. Statement of significance: 4D printed shape-memory elastomer (SME) implants particularly designed and manufactured for a patient are greatly sought-after in minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Traditional shape-memory polymers used in these implants often suffer from issues like unsuitable transition temperatures, poor biocompatibility, limited 3D design complexity, and low toughness, making them unsuitable for MIS. Our new SME, with an adjustable transition temperature and enhanced toughness, is both biocompatible and naturally degradable, particularly in cardiovascular contexts. This allows implants, like biomedical scaffolds, to be programmed at room temperature and then adapt to the body's physiological conditions post-implantation. Our studies, including in vivo vascular grafts and in vitro device implantation, highlight the SME's effectiveness in aortic tissue regeneration and its promising applications in MIS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Mar 15 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Acta Materialia Inc.


  • 4D printing
  • Biomedical implantation
  • Digital light processing
  • Personalized medicine
  • Shape memory elastomer

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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