Innovative 3D Printing Technique for Precise Shrinkage Developed by SUTD


Researchers have discovered a unique method that counters non-uniform shrinkage in 3D printed micro and nanostructures, using two-photon polymerization lithography (TPL). The pioneering team, under the leadership of Professor Joel Yang from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), worked in cooperation with the Industrial Technology Center of Wakayama Prefecture in Japan. Their inventive process incorporates a poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) layer on the printing substrate, facilitating the movement of 3D printed parts onto a distinct substrate, which allows for controlled reduction. This approach confronts the issue of non-uniform shrinkage and broadens potential applications of TPL.

The findings, released in Nature Communications, illustrate the successful utilization of this method on intricate geometries. The loose attachment of the structures to the new substrate facilitates uniformly distributed shrinkage during heating, thereby preventing distortions. This strategy surpasses hindrances in resolution and material rigidity and also paves the way for the integration of microscopic 3D printed parts with other devices or substrates unsuitable for TPL.

This innovation ushers in new possibilities, such as the fabrication of materials that change colours in response to different light conditions, which has potential uses in anti-counterfeiting. Furthermore, it indicates progress in producing complex heat sinks for advanced electronics and enables the construction of mechanical parts, optical elements, and acoustic devices with high precision.

The team aims to expand the utilization of their methodology to substances with higher refractive indices for superior photonic crystals, which would boost technologies in lasers, imaging systems, and optical sensors. They are also refining the regulation of spacing in printed structures for vivid color 3D models that manipulate light with precision.

To read the research paper entitled “Pick and place process for uniform shrinking of 3D printed micro- and nano-architected materials,” click on this link.

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