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Quality Digest

Innovation

Tilt Compensation for Precise 3D Printing

Entire surfaces of wafers up to 4 in. accessible for printing

Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 10:58

(UpNano: Vienna) -- A novel device allows the compensation of miniscule roughness in two-photon polymerization (2PP) 3D-printing substrates while printing. The so called “Substrate Tilt Frame” has now been introduced internationally by UpNano GmbH.

The newly developed Substrate Tilt Frame helps to maximize the precision of the print result, especially for large-scale structures.

With NanoOne, entire surfaces of wafers up to 4 in. are accessible for printing.

The Substrate Tilt Frame fits any of UpNano’s NanoOne series of laser-powered 2PP 3D-printing systems, which can build structures across 12 orders of magnitude at an unprecedented speed. Additional developments at UpNano include a fiber holder that allows manufacturing of integrated optical systems on the tip of an optical fiber.

Able to print structures at nanometer resolution as well as in the centimeter dimension, the NanoOne series is unparalleled among laser-powered 2PP 3D printers. It has already been used in electronics as well as in micro-optics and for biocompatible applications in cell and medical research.

Regardless of the application, size matters in 2PP 3D printing. The larger the printed structure, the more the slightest unevenness of the print material will affect the precision of the final product. This well-known complication is addressed and solved by UpNano.

The company’s  R&D department, with U.S. and Austrian offices, developed a tiltable frame that can correct an unevenness in the sub-µm range. The Substrate Tilt Frame can be extended with various holders, including a series of chuck holders for up to 6 in. wafers. Even more importantly, the entire surface of wafers up to 4 in. is now accessible for 2PP 3D printing.

Maximum precision

“By equipping any NanoOne printer with the Substrate Tilt Frame, one maximizes the precision of the print result, especially of large-scale structures,” says Denise Hirner, head of marketing and business development and co-founder of UpNano. The handy frame can be ordered separately for easy fitting to an existing NanoOne printer, or as a preinstalled accessory to any new NanoOne.

The frame allows correction of substrate differences in the µm range. Correction values are obtained by the NanoOne auto-focus, which takes height measurements at three points of the substrate. Correction values are calculated based on these measurements.

For the actual adjustment, there are two versions of the Substrate Tilt Frame available—a competitively priced manual version that uses highly precise correction screws, or an automatic version that uses software-controlled precision motors for correction. The frame is compatible with all optics available for the NanoOne Series, namely 5x, 10x, 20x and 40x.

Full circle

While mounted on the NanoOne-standard, long-range piezo stage with 120 x 100 x 40 mm travel range, the Substrate Tilt Frame allows printing excessively large areas. In fact, using the additionally available chuck holders, this area allows for 2PP 3D printing on the entire surface of industry standard 2-, 3-, or 4-in. wafers. Even on 6-in. wafers, an area of 50 x 70 mm is available for printing.

Hirner says, “The NanoOne can print at a staggering writing speed of up to 1,200 mm/s and achieves a throughput of up to 200 mm³/h. This, plus the newly achieved ability to print the entire surface of an industry-standard wafer of up to 4 in., makes series production with 2PP 3D precision feasible for the first time.”

But the chuck holders are not the only accessories that make the Substrate Tilt Frame interesting. UpNano has also added a fiber holder as well as a ferrule holder. By using these holders, together with a printing material with optical properties from the UpNano portfolio that has been optimized for the process, integrated optical systems can be positioned and manufactured with high precision on the tip of an optical fiber.

Structure printed on the top of a glass fiber.

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