Shape memory polymers are materials that are able to retain a deformed state until an external stimulus, most typically heat, triggers recovery to the original geometry. Whereas typically, shape memory polymers are required to recover fast (seconds to minutes), many applications, particularly in the medical field, would benefit from a slow recovery (days to weeks). In this work, we exploit the broad glass transition range of photo-cured poly(D,L-lactide) dimethacrylate networks to obtain recovery times of up to 2 weeks, at 11 °C below the peak glass transition temperature of 58 °C. Recovery times decreased considerably for higher recovery temperatures, down to ∼10 min at 55 °C. A large spread in glass transition values (53.3-61.0 °C) was observed between samples, indicating poor reproducibility in sample preparation and, hence, in predicting shape recovery kinetics for individual samples. Furthermore, a staged recovery was observed with different parts of the samples recovering at different times. The ability to prepare complex structures using digital light processing stereolithography 3D printing from these polymers was confirmed. To the best of our knowledge, this work provides the first experimental evidence of prolonged recovery of shape memory polymers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering