Electronics

UNM scientists 3D print mechanical metamaterials for metered ink deposition

Nanoscribe nano 3D printer used for printed electronics application

Electronic components can also be manufactured by roll-to-roll processes, where a special stamp transfers the printing material to the substrate. However, common defects, such us haloing or bridging, negatively affect the performance of printed materials for electronics applications. University of New Mexico researchers thus used a GT Professional nano 3D printer from Nanoscribe to create a 3D printed porous stamp.

3D printed porous stamp
3D-printed porous stamp. Image: Gallegos, Kaehr et al., Sandia National Labs, University of New Mexico

To address this challenge, researchers around Michael Gallegos from Sandia National Laboratories and The University of New Mexico (US) worked on a new approach: 3D printed mechanical metamaterials for metered ink deposition. These porous stamps use capillary forces during mechanical deformation to enable metered material transfer. One of the main drawbacks in roll-to-roll processes is the excess amount of ink left on the substrate after lifting off the stamp creating the aforementioned defects. Therefore, the researchers aim at making the material dispense more controllable.

They used a Nanoscribe 3D printer – which implements 2PP technology – to fabricate stamps with micrometer-sized pores. In the stamping process, the pore-space acts as the reservoir and the mechanical deformation as the “metering pump”. When using a porous stamp, the suction force pulls the ink back into the stamp when lifting it off. This way, ink overspill can be avoided. Moreover, the researchers printed fibrous stamps to compare to solid stamps. They found that regardless of the density of fibers, fibrous stamps printed with greater fidelity as well as more uniform film thickness versus solid stamps. This work with regards to fluid mechanics opens up many applications for cost-effective, ubiquitous sensors.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, I have built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, I spent 12 years in the United States, where I received my Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. As a journalist covering the tech industry - especially the videogame industry - for over 10 years, I began covering the AM industry specifically in 2013, as blogger. In 2016 I co-founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial, and market analysis & consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, and leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. I am also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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