Kaleidoscopic 3D printing is best suited for large-scale fabrication of complex periodic microarchitectures. The massive production of microarchitectures with complex designs can be produced in parallel, making this technology ideal for rapid prototyping labs. It may also be used in trauma applications that require large-scale prints with small feature sizes. For instance, biological scaffolds, chemical reactors, functional surfaces could be printed scalable for a wide range of applications.
Coupling lithographic patterning with photopolymerization can create complex structures by sequential stacking of multiple layers. This process known as stereolithography (SLA) suffers from low scalability and a limit on the feature size of complex microstructures. A multi-focal point method has been approached to extend the fabrication area of two-photon polymerization SLA. This approach increases the fabrication area and reduces printing time but, the imaging optics still use a conventional one-to-one or one-to-array imaging system, thus the system still requires a serial scanning process. This limits the potential of scalable SLA due to the intrinsic lithographic scaling law of imaging systems. There is a need for scalable 3D printing systems that allow for large scale efficient printing without an undesirable loss of quality of the printed object.
This invention provides an improved way for performing SLA 3D printing that produces objects of a finer quality more quickly in a more scalable manner. It uses a microdisplay to generate an image and an array lens that replicates the image to form a kaleidoscopic imaging pattern on a resin that forms the 3D printed object. The use of array-to-array imaging rather than one-to-one or one-to-array imaging introduces scalable printing at tens of centimeter2 scales without requiring specialized instruments such as scanning modules or mechanical stages. Projection-based SLA multiplies small feature sizes of several micrometers with a kaleidoscopic imaging system that reconstructs patterns over a large area.
- Use of one, sub-divided, light source lowers cost and complexity of operation
- Increased scalability with use of array-to-array imaging system
- Decreased restrictions on feature size