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Phase Change Rapid Prototyping with Aqueous Inks

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We present the first results of a new rapid prototyping technique that has been developed, which can produce structures with high aspect ratios (44:1) and freeform overhangs. The technique uses a piezoelectric printhead to precisely deposit material drop by drop at predetermined positions on a substrate. The temperature of the printhead can be varied so as to adjust the ink's viscosity, in order to improve its printability. The substrate on the other hand is kept below the ink's freezing point. For a normal water-based ink this means that the printhead is kept at room temperature and the substrate is kept at −20°C. When a droplet hits the surface its small thermal volume is almost instantly cooled. As a result of this fast freezing, the droplet does not spread but retains the shape of a half sphere. The next falling droplet lands on top of the first and covers it; heat is removed to the substrate through this contact area. Successive droplets result in the formation of a pillar with a rounded top. Finally, by moving the translational stage during printing simple, freestanding step structures can be fabricated.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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