Fraunhofer ILT are looking into developing a new device that can merge stereolithography or other light-based methods with multiphoton polymerization. Although the technology is not yet complete, according to Fraunhofer their HoPro-3D technology will allow for the faster production of polymer structures with resin 3D printers.
There are quite a few advantages to mixing together these two processes. Firstly, the company details how it would create high-precision, cost-effective 3D constructions. In conjunction, both methods combine the larger scale capabilities of SLA/DLP with the finer resolution of two-photon polymerisation. The project partners are thus combining processes with two diverse, selectable exposure systems allowing for either high build rates or high precision.
“The advantage lies in the interplay between the two procedures: Depending on the need, we intend to switch between the exposure systems in the process,” explains Dr. Martin Wehner, HoPro-3D project manager at Fraunhofer ILT. “The challenge we face is in process control. The concept has been developed, currently an appropriate machine is being built.”
The HoPro-3D System
The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT already procured funding through European Union and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Their partners include LightFab GmbH from Aachen, Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH from Dortmund and Miltenyi Biotec GmbH from Bergisch Gladbach. Currently, they’re all looking into also developing a software backing to handle the process switching for HoPro machines.
The combination of processes can be useful in optical goods such as lenses or prisms for overall larger components. The eventual machine should prove most interesting for the production of components used in biomedical analysis technology. However, the fields of application outside of medicine and lenses are numerous as well. Support scaffolds for 3D tissue models, micromechanical components or complete microfluidic systems could all benefit from the potential results of the research into HoPro.
Featured image courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT.