Fiber reinforced hydrogel composite assembly
This research work started with the development of a robotic system that mimics the process of spider web formation. The robotic system is able to convert small samples of biopolymer or synthetic polymer solution into 3D patterned non-woven structure. Fiber obtained from this system varies from sub micron diameter to 25 micron diameter depending upon the spinning process (dry spinning or wet spinning). The system is now being used to deposit fibers onto surfaces or into gels in order to build webs or fiber-reinforced hydrogel assembly. Currently we are using this approach to mimic the soft tissue structures such as cartilage or vertebral disc. For the matrix we are using epoxy-amine based hydrogel assembly. The fibrous 3D structure is used as reinforced to enhance the mechanical properties of hydrogel and also helps in controlling the swellability. In order to understand the hydrogel-fiber composite assembly, we have formulated various epoxy-amine gels which can be design from completely hydrophobic in nature to hydrophilic gel having swellability upto or more than 500% in water.