Developing aerosol jet printable regenerated silk fibroin solutions

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Xiao, Yuhan
Harris, Tequila A. L.
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Regenerated silk fibroin (RSF) solutions have gained a lot of attention due to its strong mechanical properties, biocompatibility and biodegradability. To exploit these unique properties, for applications such as drug delivery, packaging, biosensor, and wound treatment non-contact, maskless printing methods are highly desirable, such as inkjet printing (IJP). However, IJP is prone to clogging and typically additives, which alter the chemistry of the solution, are required to successful deposition. In this work, a framework for using aerosol jet printer (AJP) to fabricate RSF solutions derived from cocoons of the silkworm is developed. A unique combination of degumming, dissolving and dialysis conditions is required to prepare an aerosol jet printable RSF solution. It has been found that slight changes in those steps can lead to gelation or printing defects. Even so, it has been shown that additives are not required for AJP RSF solutions, and when added have a negative impact on the printed pattern. From the developed operating window, it has been shown that outside the optimum ranges, the patterns will be subjected to several defects including discontinuities, pooling and cloudiness. An artifact of AJP known as overspray has been found to be an uncontrolled phenomenon that can be reduced by increasing sheath rate. The results of this investigation introduce the feasibility of AJP patterns from RSF solutions.
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