This article was published on 13 November 2018
New technology enabling rapid prototyping of high-resolution microscale structures opens up opportunities for small component manufacturers.
Callaghan Innovation today unveiled Laminated Resin Printing (LRP) – a new type of 3D printing technology that enables rapid prototyping of high-resolution microscale structures. Its MicroMaker3D team is one of ten exhibitors selected for IDTechEx’s Santa Clara Launchpad, an initiative showcasing new disruptive and state-of-the art technologies.
Laminated Resin Printing (LRP) makes it fast, easy and affordable for researchers, developers and manufacturers to create a wide range of printed structures for applications such as electronics, wearables, sensors, IoT devices and more.
It enables developers to print submillimeter structures with complex geometries of up to 100 per cent density, in extraordinary low-layer thicknesses and with imaging speeds as quick as one second per layer independent of complexity or density. Co-inventors Andrea Bubendorfer and Andrew Best developed LRP to address the need to rapidly produce microscale structures in an efficient, convenient and cost-effective way.
“Microfabrication – the production of very small high-value devices – is an export industry for New Zealand. Until now, however, making these miniature structures has been slow and expensive,” Andrea says.
“By comparison, 3D printing has transformed how we make things, but it can’t operate on the small scale needed for microfabrication. We set out to develop ways to make microfabrication more accessible and are proud to have created a new technology that addresses the significant need for rapid prototyping on the microscale. And by small, we’re talking 5 microns. For context, a human hair is about 100 microns.”
Senior Business Development Manager, Cath Andrews, says the highly functional and versatile nature of the technology makes it relevant to many high-tech industries, including aerospace and medical.
“This is a game changer where high-resolution, size, weight and durability really matter,” says Cath. “With the global miniaturisation megatrend underway, there is a rising demand for smaller components and detailing.
“The IDTechEx Launchpad is an ideal forum to talk to developers and innovators with a need for prints with high-resolution features and to talk with industry players interested in discussing the commercialisation potential of LRP technology.”
The MicroMaker3D team is delighted to have the support of the IDTechEx Launchpad initiative. The team also acknowledges support provided by KiwiNet in the form of funding, programmes, and advice; engineering expertise provided by the Mechatronics Engineers at the Massey University Centre for Additive Manufacturing and the Callaghan Innovation Advanced Engineering team; and advice and encouragement from Johan Potgieter (Professor of Robotics at Massey University and expert in additive manufacturing) and Olaf Diegel (Professor of Product Development and world-renowned 3D printing expert).
LRP is a versatile technology for printing:
- Standalone planar structures (shadow masks, optical slits, optical encoders, filters, meshes, etc.)
- Structures on paper, fabric and PCB substrates (wearables, disposable microfluidics, lab-on-a-chip devices)
- Printed electronic masks
- Miniature 3D prints (microcomponentry, MEMS springs)
- Overhang structures in elastic material – ideal for microsensor components
The technology is highly functional:
- Affordable and easy to use
- Fast, with imaging speeds of seconds per layer independent of complexity or density
- No cleanroom is required
- Scalable from prototype to production using the same high-quality material
LRP excels in:
- Rapid prototyping for applications where size and weight matter
- 5-micron voxel printing with high accuracy and complexity
- Printing single layer and multilayer structures
- Producing prints with extreme thermal and chemical resistance
- Printing on a variety of substrates: paper, fabric, silicon wafers, PCBs
The technology is being used to produce a range of structures. Examples include:
- Sharks skin, textured surfaces
- Microwell plates
- Stencils, such as for microwave antenna
- Micro filters
- Microcomponents, such as gears, lever sprints, needle pointers, circlips
- Patterned conductive tracks
- Encapsulated structures.
About Callaghan Innovation: Callaghan Innovation is New Zealand’s innovation agency. With over 200 in-house scientists and technical experts, alongside deep connections into the New Zealand innovation ecosystem and global expertise, the government agency helps businesses grow faster by activating innovation and accelerating commercialisation. The organisation is named after Sir Paul Callaghan, a visionary New Zealand scientist and business champion.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about Laminated Resin Printing technology and its possible applications visit the MicroMaker3D website.
Visit: Launchpad Booth ZB37 IDTechEx Show, Santa Clara
Andrea Bubendorfer (Technical): firstname.lastname@example.org
Cath Andrews (Business): email@example.com
Melanie Tuala (Media): firstname.lastname@example.org