Microstereolithography

Lead Faculty Researcher: Nicholas Fang
Lead Faculty Researcher:
Nicholas Fang, MechSE, Illinois

3D microfabrication by projection microstereolithography (PμSL) is a versatile, low cost process that can be used to rapidly create highly complex micro 3-D polymer structures and devices which can be used by themselves, used as molds, electroplated or with resin additives produce ceramic items.

The process begins with a 3D CAD drawing which is sliced into a set of layers.  The image of each layer is sent sequentially to a dynamic mask generator.  Then, light from a flood UV source is reflected off the dynamic mask and the beam containing the image is focused on the surface of a UV curable polymer resin through a projection lens which reduces the image to the desired size.  Once a layer is polymerized, the stage drops the substrate by a predefined layer thickness, and the dynamic mask displays the next image for the polymerization of the next layer on top of the preceding one.  This proceeds iteratively until all the layers are complete. The process can create polymer layers on the order of 400 nm.

Many applications exist for this technique of nanoscale and microscale manufacturing, including micro-bio reactors to support tissue growth, micromatrices for drug delivery and detection, and biochemical integrated circuits that could eventually simulate biological systems.

This technology has been adopted for use as a highly successful high school experiment and demonstration of a micro-fabrication technology involving computer design with UV cure polymer chemistry.

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