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Taking Advantage of NIR– a New Idea for 3D Printing

A New Technological Revolution –3D Printing

With the development of science and technology, the fifth new manufacturing revolution will come soon, namely 3D printing technology.It will make plastic and metal parts, and even entire products of these materials, printable using things like ink-jet printers and the laser printers we currently use to output files and photos.3D printing technology is also born in the computer industry, and the computer industry has experienced the test of practice and innovation, so 3D printing technology is the result of a mature industry, with a very good prospect.
3D printing, also known as Additive Manufacturing, can be applied to any process of printing three-dimensional objects.3D printing is primarily an additive process, stacking raw materials under computer control.The contents of 3d printing can be derived from 3D models or other electronic data, and the printed 3D objects can have any shape and geometric characteristics.The 3D printer is a kind of industrial robot.
The term "3D printing" originally referred to the process of orderly deposition of material into a powder layer of ink-jet print heads, but more recently the term has expanded to encompass a wide range of technologies, such as extrusion and sintering processes.Technical standards generally use the term "incremental manufacturing" to express this broad meaning.

The Origin of 3D Printing Technology

The first 3D printer was invented by Charles Hull in 1984.At the time, Hull used specialized ultraviolet lamps to harden liquid plastic resins known as "photocurable polymers."Hull was inspired to create the first 3D object.
After many long nights and weekends, Hull developed an instrument that controlled ultraviolet laser beams with a computer and used it to shape a bucket of light cured polymers into the surface of an object.Under the surface, there is a light curing polymer lifting platform, it will decline, in the process of printing under has been shaping the surface spray a layer of light curing polymer, and the computer control of the laser beam to cure this layer of light curing polymer, the process repeats itself, the final hull coined a small blue plastic cup.
Hull calls his 3D printing process "3D lithography."He soon obtained a patent and set up a company called 3D Systems to develop commercial "3D lithography machines".By 1988, they were offering the second generation of 3D printers for the mass market.Hull pioneered 3D printing, and since then the technology has evolved and is playing a role in more and more fields.

Recent Research Findings

Direct Ink writing (DIW) is an extrudation-based 3D printing (3DP) technology that stacks ink continuously to create objects quickly and freely.Combined with different DIW ink choices, many objects with unique characteristics can be created, such as 4D printing, electromechanical properties, biological process strengthening, porous materials, polymer foam, and shape memory.However, due to time-consuming post-processing, pure thermal curing inks have limited attempts to achieve complex 3D geometry and functional structure with DIW.In addition, the size of uncured DIW print objects is limited due to poor mechanical properties.Therefore, there is an urgent need to change ink and processing design to improve the performance of 3D printed objects.In order to solve this problem, Professor Liu Ren's team of Jiangnan University reported a 3D printing strategy of photopolymerization reaction initiated by near infrared (NIR). The fusion of NIR photocurable material and DIW 3D printing technology can realize in-situ curing of thick filament with high penetration rate.This increases DIW scalability, allowing the deposited filament diameter to 4 mm, far exceeding any existing UV-assisted DIW.The nIR effect range can be expanded to tens of centimeters and provides embedded writing capability.The authors also demonstrated its parallel manufacturing capability, simultaneously curing multi-colored filaments and independent objects.This strategy has the further advantage of being widely used in combination with other ink-based 3D printing technologies.In this way, DIW can be very targeted to solve the problem.Professor Liu's team is still working on the research, it is believed that in the near future DIW can break through the limitation and be more widely used.
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