Characterization of a 30 µm pixel size CLIP-based 3D printer and its enhancement through dynamic printing optimization

Addit Manuf. 2022 Jul;55:102800. doi: 10.1016/j.addma.2022.102800. Epub 2022 Apr 1.


Resolving microscopic and complex 3D polymeric structures while maintaining high print speeds in additive manufacturing has been challenging. To achieve print precision at micrometer length scales for polymeric materials, most 3D printing technologies utilize the serial voxel printing approach that has a relatively slow print speed. Here, a 30-µm-resolution continuous liquid interface production (CLIP)-based 3D printing system for printing polymeric microstructures is described. This technology combines the high-resolution from projection microstereolithography and the fast print speed from CLIP, thereby achieving micrometer print resolution at x103 times faster than other high-resolution 3D printing technologies. Print resolutions in both lateral and vertical directions were characterized, and the printability of minimum 30 µm features in 2D and 3D has been demonstrated. Through dynamic printing optimization, a method that varies the print parameters (e.g. exposure time, UV intensity, and dark time) for each print layer, overhanging struts at various thicknesses spanning 1 order of magnitude (25 µm - 200 µm) in a single print are resolvable. Taken together, this work illustrates that the micro-CLIP 3D printing technology, in combination with dynamic printing optimization, has the high resolution needed to enable manufacturing of exquisitely detailed and gradient 3D structures, such as terraced microneedle arrays and micro-lattice structures, while maintaining high print speeds.

Keywords: 3D printing; CLIP (continuous liquid interface production); additive manufacturing; high-resolution; optimization.