Polymers (Basel). 2022 Dec 8;14(24):5377. doi: 10.3390/polym14245377.
As an energy-efficient additive manufacturing process, vat photopolymerization 3D-printing has become a convenient technology to fabricate functional devices with high resolution and freedom in design. However, due to their permanently crosslinked network structure, photopolymers are not easily reprocessed or repaired. To improve the environmental footprint of 3D-printed objects, herein, we combine the dynamic nature of hydroxyl ester links, undergoing a catalyzed transesterification at elevated temperature, with an acrylate monomer derived from renewable resources. As a sustainable building block, we synthesized an acrylated linseed oil and mixed it with selected thiol crosslinkers. By careful selection of the transesterification catalyst, we obtained dynamic thiol-acrylate resins with a high cure rate and decent storage stability, which enabled the digital light processing (DLP) 3D-printing of objects with a structure size of 550 µm. Owing to their dynamic covalent bonds, the thiol-acrylate networks were able to relax 63% of their initial stress within 22 min at 180 °C and showed enhanced toughness after thermal annealing. We exploited the thermo-activated reflow of the dynamic networks to heal and re-shape the 3D-printed objects. The dynamic thiol-acrylate photopolymers also demonstrated promising healing, shape memory, and re-shaping properties, thus offering great potential for various industrial fields such as soft robotics and electronics.