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Title: Minimizing Shrinkage in Microstructures Printed With Projection Two-Photon Lithography

Two-photon lithography (TPL) is a photopolymerization-based additive manufacturing technique capable of fabricating complex 3D structures with submicron features. Projection TPL (P-TPL) is a specific implementation that leverages projection-based parallelization to increase the rate of printing by three orders of magnitude. However, a practical limitation of P-TPL is the high shrinkage of the printed microstructures that is caused by the relatively low degree of polymerization in the as-printed parts. Unlike traditional stereolithography (SLA) methods and conventional TPL, most of the polymerization in P-TPL occurs through dark reactions while the light source is off, thereby resulting in a lower degree of polymerization. In this study, we empirically investigated the parameters of the P-TPL process that affect shrinkage. We observed that the shrinkage reduces with an increase in the duration of laser exposure and with a reduction of layer spacing. To broaden the design space, we explored a photochemical post-processing technique that involves further curing the printed structures using UV light while submerging them in a solution of a photoinitiator. With this post-processing, we were able to reduce the areal shrinkage from more than 45% to 1% without limiting the geometric design space. This shows that P-TPL can achieve high dimensional accuracy while taking advantage of the high throughput when compared to conventional serial TPL. Furthermore, P-TPL has a higher resolution when compared to the conventional SLA prints at a similar shrinkage rate.

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ASME 2022 17th International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference
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Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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