3D Printing Micro and Macro Fluidics with Liquid Support
MIT Media Lab
Additive manufacturing enables the digital fabrication of complex geometries otherwise challenging, or impossible, to construct by other means. However, the use of support structures, or special support materials, such as the ones required for multi-material 3d printing, poses a problem to the fabrication of intricate internal structures. Geometries that contain internal channels, pockets or networks—specifically in the case when optical heterogeneity is required—can be especially useful for hosting microorganisms such as in microfluidics. Specifically, in order to fabricate a single channel with variable properties, the use of multipart assemblies with predefined and consistent properties, or similarly, the use of tube inserts post fabrication, is often deemed impractical. As such, to fabricate continuous pieces that are at once materially heterogeneous and hollow, we developed - in collaboration with Stratasys - a novel liquid support material strategy in combination with a bitmap-printing approach for the creation of complex internal structures. This liquid support material uses material combinations, which cannot be polymerized by UV light, but turn into liquid upon exposure to heat.
Additionally, a custom slicing approach allows to make use of high-resolution, highly precise Boolean operations without modifying the actual geometry. This is achieved by deferring said operations to slice generation and at the slicing stage specifying use the liquid support material over model materials in areas that are desired to be hollow in the final form. This allows to create physically hollow channels, after the cleaning process, on arbitrary complex geometries without modifying the actual shape description at the resolution of the 3D printer.
2016 Grown, Printed, and Biologically Augmented
In collaboration with Daniel Dikovsky and Boris Belocon (Stratasys Ltd.)