Micro 3D printingStandards

Advancing 2PP 3D printing with standardized material testing

Made possible by combining UpNano's NanoOne system with resins that can be processed at very high volumetric build rates

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For the first time, the mechanical properties of Two-Photon Polymerization (2PP) 3D printed bulk specimens in the millimeter to centimeter range have been tested using established standardized methods. This breakthrough was made possible by combining the use of one of the fastest commercially available 2PP 3D printers – UpNano’s NanoOne – with resins that can be processed at very high volumetric build rates, enabling upscaling.

Advancing 2PP 3D printing with standardized material testing thanks to UpNano's resins and NanoOne system.
Printed using the NanoOne 2PP 3D printing platform by UpNano, at 35mm tall.

The test results, now published in ‘Advanced Materials’, demonstrate the superior material quality of the UpPhoto and UpDraft resins compared to an acrylate resin (ETA/TTA). Both materials are fully cured immediately after printing – eliminating the need for post-treatment. A multinational collaboration involving researchers from the Technical University Vienna (TU Wien), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the RWTH Aachen University, along with materials experts from UpNano GmbH, conducted the comprehensive study.

The latest generation of 2PP 3D printers combines the achievable high resolution with a high production speed (up to >450 mm³/h) – enabling the manufacturing of large structures up to several centimeters in size. This makes 2PP 3D printing attractive for both industrial applications and large-scale production. As a result, standardized methods for the mechanical characterization of 2PP 3D printed parts are becoming increasingly important. The international team has now succeeded, for the first time, in applying standard test methods to (macroscale) 2PP 3D printed parts (for example, 35mm large ISO-standard test specimens) – providing invaluable insight into their mechanical properties.

“Currently, there is no accepted standardized test method for micro- or nano-scale 2PP 3D printed parts. But even if there were, the mechanical properties of a large-scale part could not simply be extrapolated from such small-scale samples. Therefore, the work of the TU Wien team and colleagues is a real breakthrough on the way to the industrial application of 2PP 3D printing,” said Bernhard Küenburg, CEO of UpNano.

Advancing 2PP 3D printing with standardized material testing thanks to UpNano's resins and NanoOne system. The team was able to test a wide range of mechanical properties of the 2PP 3D printed material, including tensile, flexure, and hardness, as well as creep and fracture behavior. The materials used were ETA/TTA – ethoxylated (20/3)-trimethylolpropane triacrylate (ETA) in combination with trimethylolpropane triacrylate (TTA) – and two commercially available materials from UpNano GmbH – UpPhoto and UpDraft. To achieve the production speed required for large samples, the team used 10x or 5x objectives mounted on a NanoOne printer from UpNano.

“One of the most remarkable results we obtained was that of the three materials studied, only UpPhoto and UpDraft were suitable for upscaling. This was due to their wide processing window and overall well-balanced properties. ETA/TTA, on the other hand, was found to be unsuitable due to its small processing window, stress-induced microcracking, and generally low toughness of the final product,” said Markus Lunzer, Team Lead for Materials and Application at UpNano and last author of the study.

UpPhoto’s and UpDraft’s 2PP 3D printing can also produce fully cured and therefore robust parts right after printing, with no post-curing required. This is especially advantageous for the 3D printing of microfluidic devices, as it enables the production of complex internal microchannel structures.

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