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Hydrogel Tribology with MCR Tribometers

Hydrogels are promising materials for many applications in medical engineering. They can be used to replace human tissue such as articular cartilage. Depending on the recipe and process applied, hydrogels with specific mechanical or chemical properties can be manufactured. It is also possible to design hydrogels with specific frictional characteristics, which can be determined through tribological testing.


Biomaterials and bio-inspired materials are gaining increasing importance in the fields of biomedical engineering. Hydrogels, for example, are promising for artificial tissues such as cartilage replacement[1], and also for coating medical devices[2]. Different materials and different processes such as electrospinning[3, 4], 3D printing[4], etc., can be used to obtain hydrogels. Building up a network within the hydrogel matrix is achieved by different mechanisms such as UV curing[5] or freeze-thaw technique[6, 7].

During their use in the human body or during medical interventions, hydrogels are subjected to tribological stresses. The dynamics of biomaterials under load are rather complex and may influence the performance in real world conditions[8]. Hence, it is essential to know about the tribological behavior of tribosystems comprised of hydrogels. Within this report, a methodology is presented for running tribological measurements with hydrogels on an MCR Tribometer.


[1] Armiento et al., Biomaterials for articular cartilage tissue engineering: Learning from biology, Acta Biomaterialia, 2018.

[2] Rummel et al., A methodology for the tribological characterization of hydrogel-coated catheters for cardiovascular applications, Tribologie und Schmierungstechnik, 2018.

[3] Zhou et al., Recent progress of fabrication of cell scaffold by electrospinning technique for articular cartilage tissue engineering, International Journal of Biomaterials, 2017.

[4] De Mori et al., 3D printing and electrospinning of composite hydrogels for cartilage and bone tissue engineering, Polymers. 2018.

[5] Milner et al., A low friction, biphasic and boundary lubricating hydrogel for cartilage replacement, Acta Biomaterialia, 2018.

[6] Gupta et al., Evolution of PVA gels prepared without crosslinking agents as a cell adhesive surface, 2011, J Mater Sci: Mater Med.

[7] Guan et al., Physically crosslinked composite hydrogels of hemicellulose with poly(vinyl alcohol phosphate) and chitin nanowhiskers, Bioresources, 2015.

[8] Winkeljann et al., Oscillatory tribology performed with a commercial shear rheometer, Biotribology 2018.

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