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Continuous liquid interface production of 3D objects

Science  20 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6228, pp. 1349-1352
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2397

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Fast, continuous, 3D printing

Although three-dimensional (3D) printing is now possible using relatively small and low-cost machines, it is still a fairly slow process. This is because 3D printers require a series of steps to cure, replenish, and reposition themselves for each additive cycle. Tumbleston et al. devised a process to effectively grow solid structures out of a liquid bath. The key to the process is the creation of an oxygen-containing “dead zone” between the solid part and the liquid precursor where solidification cannot occur. The precursor liquid is then renewed by the upward movement of the growing solid part. This approach made structures tens of centimeters in size that could contain features with a resolution below 100 µm.

Science, this issue p. 1349

Abstract

Additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing use time-consuming, stepwise layer-by-layer approaches to object fabrication. We demonstrate the continuous generation of monolithic polymeric parts up to tens of centimeters in size with feature resolution below 100 micrometers. Continuous liquid interface production is achieved with an oxygen-permeable window below the ultraviolet image projection plane, which creates a “dead zone” (persistent liquid interface) where photopolymerization is inhibited between the window and the polymerizing part. We delineate critical control parameters and show that complex solid parts can be drawn out of the resin at rates of hundreds of millimeters per hour. These print speeds allow parts to be produced in minutes instead of hours.

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