Multiwavelength vat polymerization creates multimaterial 3D-printed components

May 1, 2019
By illuminating a mixture of polymers with different wavelengths of light in a pre-determined spatial and temporal pattern, standard vat polymerization can build a multimaterial 3D-printed component.

Currently, the only means of producing 3D-printed or additive-manufacturing (AM)-based components consisting of more than one material is through extrusion of multiple materials using different nozzles, through hybrid processes such as a combination of single-wavelength vat polymerization combined with extrusion or injection processes, or by changing the vat materials and/or source wavelength during the print process (midprint).

Recognizing the need to advance AM towards the creation of multimaterial components in one process step, scientists at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) and the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI) have developed a multiwavelength vat-polymerization process that takes advantage of the wavelength-specific cure properties of certain chemicals. By projecting two or more wavelengths of light (using spatial digital light projection methods) into a vat filled with a mixture of resins, acrylates, epoxies, polymers, or other organic and inorganic liquid chemicals that cure with different wavelengths (in the visible, ultraviolet, or infrared), a 3D rendering of a multimaterial object can be produced in one process step. Reference: J. J. Schwartz and A. J. Boydston, Nat. Commun., 10, 791 (Feb. 15, 2019).

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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