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Multi-material stereolithography using curing-on-demand printheads

Huachao Mao (School of Engineering Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Wenxuan Jia (Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Yuen-Shan Leung (Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Jie Jin (Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Yong Chen (Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA and Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 2 June 2021

Issue publication date: 14 July 2021

286

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a multi-material additive manufacturing (AM) process with a newly developed curing-on-demand method to fabricate a three-dimensional (3D) object with multiple material compositions.

Design/methodology/approach

Unlike the deposition-on-demand printing method, the proposed curing-on-demand printheads use a digital light processing (DLP) projector to selectively cure a thin layer of liquid photocurable resin and then clean the residual uncured material effectively using a vacuuming and post-curing device. Each printhead can individually fabricate one type of material using digitally controlled mask image patterns. The proposed AM process can accurately deposit multiple materials in each layer by combining multiple curing-on-demand printheads together. Consequently, a three-dimensional object can be fabricated layer-by-layer using the developed curing-on-demand printing method.

Findings

Effective cleaning of uncured resin is realized with reduced coated resin whose height is in the sub-millimeter level and improved vacuum cleaning performance with the uncleaned resin less than 10 µm thick. Also, fast material swapping is achieved using the compact design of multiple printheads.

Originality/value

The proposed multi-material stereolithography (SL) process enables 3D printing components using more viscous materials and can achieve desired manufacturing characteristics, including high feature resolution, fast fabrication speed and low machine cost.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by NSF grant CMMI 1151191.

Citation

Mao, H., Jia, W., Leung, Y.-S., Jin, J. and Chen, Y. (2021), "Multi-material stereolithography using curing-on-demand printheads", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 861-871. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-05-2020-0104

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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