Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Sustainable Additive Manufacturing of Polyelectrolyte Photopolymer Complexes



Thomas Kolibaba, Jason Killgore, Callie Higgins


Polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs), assemblies of oppositely charged polymers with powerful properties and wide-ranging applications, are currently not melt-processable via any conventional means and have been limited commercially to applications only as coatings. Here, a unique strategy of pairing a polycation with an oppositely charged, photopolymerizable monomer is employed. Vat photopolymerization of this mixture yields 3-dimensional spatial control over PECs for the first time. The properties of these 3D printed PECs are evaluated and are found to be similar to conventionally studied PEC materials. The water-sensitivity of the PEC parts is adjustable through the incorporation of a small amount of covalent crosslinker, highlighting potential future applications of these materials in 4D printing. Finally, the recyclability of the additively manufactured PECs is demonstrated through the dissolution of a printed part and its incorporation into virgin resin to yield a part composed of partially recycled material. This chemistry has the potential to dramatically expand the application space of PEC materials and is a step towards a more circular economy for the field of additive manufacturing.
Advanced Materials Technologies


polyethylenimine, methacrylic acid, vat photopolymerization, stereolithography, digital light processing, circular economy, recyclability


Kolibaba, T. , Killgore, J. and Higgins, C. (2023), Sustainable Additive Manufacturing of Polyelectrolyte Photopolymer Complexes, Advanced Materials Technologies, [online],, (Accessed May 18, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created January 29, 2023, Updated January 30, 2023