TU Wien researchers develop material analysis method for 3D printing at micrometer scale
TU Wien is conducting research into high-precision 3D printing technology. Now, a new method is enabling researchers to look for suitable materials with greater precision than ever.
How is it possible to build a model of St Stephen’s Cathedral the size of a dust particle? Well, using TU Wien’s modern 3D-printing technology, this is no longer a problem. Unimaginably fine structures in orders of magnitude well below a micrometer can now be created using their 3D printer.
However, this process requires what are known as ‘initiator molecules’, which have very specific physical properties. Using a new analysis method, developed at the Institute of Applied Physics at TU Wien, it is now possible to examine these molecules more closely and more quickly than was previously possible and thus identify which materials allow the technology to function best. Details of this technology were recently published in the physics journal ‘Applied Physics Letters’.
Resin cured by laser beam
It all starts with a liquid: the starting material for 3D printing is a resin, which is cured at certain very specific points using a laser beam. In order for this to happen, a chemical chain reaction needs to be set in motion. Special initiator molecules are activated when they absorb photons from the laser beam, ultimately causing the resin to cure.
“In order to achieve as high a resolution as possible, it is important that the initiator molecules are not activated by a single photon but rather are only activated when they absorb two photons at the same time”, explains Prof. Wolfgang Husinsky from the Institute of Applied Physics at TU Wien. “This two-photon process can only occur with the required probability where the laser light is at its strongest, i.e. exactly in the centre of the laser beam.”
Get up-to-date with the latest industry developments on April 17, 2018, at the 3D Printing Materials Conference , which will take place at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in the Netherlands. At the same location, on April 18, 2018, the 4D Printing & Meta Materials Conference will be organised.