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Direct-print photopolymerization for 3D printing

Morteza Vatani (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Jae-Won Choi (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 20 March 2017




This work aims to present a guideline for ink development used in extrusion-based direct-write (DW) (also referred to as direct-print [DP]) technique and combine the extrusion with instant photopolymerization to present a solvent-free DP photopolymerization (DPP) method to fill the gap between 3D printing and printing multi-functional 3D structures.


A DP process called DPP was developed by integration of a screw-driven micro-dispenser into XYZ translation stages. The process was equipped with direct photopolymerization to facilitate the creation of 3D structures. The required characteristics of inks used in this technique were simulated through dispersion of fumed silica particles into photocurable resins to transform them into viscoelastic inks. The characterization method of these inks and the required level of shear thinning and thixotropic properties is presented.


Shear thinning and thixotropic properties are necessary components of the inks used in DPP process and other DP techniques. These properties are desirable to facilitate printing and filament shape retention. Extrusion of viscoelastic inks out of a nozzle generates a filament capable of retaining its geometry. Likewise, instant photopolymerization of the dispensed filaments prevents deformation due to the weight of filaments or accumulated weight of layers.


The DPP process with material-reforming methods has been shown, where there remain many shortcomings in realizing a DP-based 3D printing process with instant photopolymerization in existing literature, as well as a standard guideline and material requirements. The suggested method can be extended to develop a new commercial 3D printing system and printable inks to create various functional 3D structures including sensors, actuators and electronics, where nanoparticles are involved for their functionalities. Particularly, an original contribution to the determination of a rheological property of an ink is provided.



Rheology experiments were accomplished in Timken Engineered Surface Lab (TESL) at The University of Akron. We would like to thank Dr. Gary Doll, the director and Dr. Paul Shiller, Research Scientist in TESL.


Vatani, M. and Choi, J.-W. (2017), "Direct-print photopolymerization for 3D printing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 337-343.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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