Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering


Dr. Andrew N. Hrymak


Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) hydrogels are used to produce high fidelity models for surgical training applications. PVA hydrogel mechanical properties are developed through the use of a freeze-thaw cycling, physical crosslinking process. The resulting gels exhibit a non-linear elastic modulus which can be tailored to match many tissues of the human body.

Methods for joining PVA hydrogels were investigated to aid in the production of complicated structures that would be difficult to produce in a single step. Bond strength of PVA gels was characterized using a modified peel test. The porosity and degree of crosslinking of the PVA substrate were investigated as the factors affecting adhesion.

Rotational molding was investigated to produce hollow structures unattainable by injection molding. Fumed silica was used as a rheology modifier to maintain a molded shape before freeze-thaw cycling at room temperature. A prototype stomach and embedded vessel model were produced using the rotational molding and joining methods respectively.