Study of Microscale Three-Dimensional Printing Using Near-Field Melt Electrospinning

[+] Author and Article Information
Xiangyu You, Chengcong Ye

Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Hong Kong, China

Ping Guo

Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Hong Kong, China
e-mail: pguo@mae.cuhk.edu.hk

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Manufacturing Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MICRO- AND NANO-MANUFACTURING. Manuscript received June 14, 2017; final manuscript received August 21, 2017; published online September 27, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Yayue Pan.

J. Micro Nano-Manuf 5(4), 040901 (Sep 27, 2017) (5 pages) Paper No: JMNM-17-1030; doi: 10.1115/1.4037788 History: Received June 14, 2017; Revised August 21, 2017

Three-dimensional (3D) printing of microscale structures with high-resolution (submicron) and low-cost is still a challenging work for the existing 3D printing techniques. Here, we report a direct writing process via near-field melt electrospinning (NFME) to achieve microscale printing of single filament wall structures. The process allows continuous direct writing due to the linear and stable jet trajectory in the electric near field. The layer-by-layer stacking of fibers, or self-assembly effect, is attributed to the attraction force from the molten deposited fibers and accumulated negative charges. We demonstrated successful printing of various 3D thin-wall structures with a minimal wall thickness less than 5 μm. By optimizing the process parameters of NFME, ultrafine poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL) fibers have been stably generated and precisely stacked and fused into 3D thin-wall structures with an aspect ratio of more than 60. It is envisioned that the NFME can be transformed into a viable high-resolution and low-cost microscale 3D printing technology.

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Fig. 1

NFME platform: (a) schematic illustration and (b) photograph of the actual setup

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Fig. 2

Parameter optimization for applied voltage and needle-to-collector distance

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Fig. 3

Schematic of collector moving trajectory for deposition of a single-wall structure

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Fig. 4

A freestanding single wall structure fabricated by NFME: (a) top view, (b) perspective view, and (c) side view

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Fig. 5

Fabricated dual wall structures: (a) and (b) dual wall structure with a small gap of 100 μm; (c) dual wall structure with a larger gap of 2 mm; SEM images of: (d) the straight wall and (e) the curved wall; and (f)–(h) SEM images of magnified view of the curved wall shown in (e)

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Fig. 6

Fabricated thin-wall structures with complex geometry: (a) SEM image of a star-shaped structure; (b) and (c) SEM images of the side surfaces of (a); (d) fiber sagging at the intersection position; annular walls with (e) straight and (f) sloped side surfaces; (g) and (h) letter-K-shaped thin wall



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