Researchers developed 3D inks that can be erased selectively, which allows specific degradation and reassembly of highly precise structures on micrometer and nanometer scales, according to a study conducted on August 15, 2018.
This study was conducted by the researchers at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). 3D printing done using direct laser writing aids in the production of micro-meter-sized structures, which finds applications in fields ranging from biomedicine to microelectronics to optical metamaterials.
The efficient manufacture of complex geometrics led to wide usage of 3D printing, in which direct laser writing became a very promising method. Using this method, production of three-dimensional structures with details in the sub-micrometer range is possible. Over a year ago, the possibilities of direct laser writing was expanded by the researchers by developing an erasable ink for 3D printing.
In this study, scientists from Karlsruhe and Brisbane have further largely refined the earlier development. Several inks of various colors that can be erased independently of each other are developed in this study. This enables selective and sequential degradation and reassembly of the laser-written microstructures. It may also be possible to add or remove parts to or from three-dimensional scaffolds for cell growth, the objective being to observe how the cells react to such changes. Moreover, the specifically erasable 3D inks allow for the exchange of damaged or worn parts in complex structures.
The photoresists are based on silane compounds that can be cleaved easily. Specific atom substitution was used by the scientists for the preparation of photoresists. Through this method, degradation of microstructure without structures with other material properties being damaged can be achieved, which makes it advantageous over the previously used erasable 3D inks.