Carbon, Inc. (Redwood City, CA)

The following steps are used to form a three dimensional object: (a) Provide a carrier and an optically translucent member that has a build zone that includes the carrier as well as the member delineating the build zone. (b) fill the build area with the polymerizable liquid, including (i) a light-polymerizable first component, and (ii), a second component that can be solidified in uncured, uncured or solidified shape. (c) Infuse the region to create the three-dimensional intermediary to form the 3D item.

Three-dimensional construction is done using traditional additive or three dimensional fabrication methods. It is either step-wise or layer-by-layer. The process of layer formation is primarily the process of forming a solidified photocurable epoxy when exposed to UV or visible light radiation. There are two kinds of layer formation: one which sees new layers formed at the top of the object and the other in which new layers develop on the bottom.

If new layers are formed at the top surface of the growing object, following each irradiation, the object being constructed is placed into the resin “pool,” a new layer of resin is deposited on top, and then a new irradiation step takes place.An early illustration of such a method is described in Hull, U.S. Pat. No. 5,236,637, at FIG. 3. A disadvantage of such “top down” techniques is the need to submerge the growing object in a (potentially deep) reservoir of liquid resin and reconstitute a precise overlayer of liquid resin.

If new layers are created at the bottom of the plate, the object must be removed from the plate while it is being made. Hull, U.S.A. is one of the first examples of this technique. Pat. No. 5,236,637, at FIG. 4. While such “bottom up” techniques hold the potential to eliminate the need for a deep well in which the object is submerged by instead lifting the object out of a relatively shallow well or pool, a problem with such”bottom up” fabrication techniques, as commercially implemented, is that extreme care must be taken, and additional mechanical elements employed, when separating the solidified layer from the bottom plate due to physical and chemical interactionstherebetween. For instance, in U.S. Pat. No. No. 7,438,846 an elastic layer is utilized for “non-destructive separation of solidified materials on the bottom of the plan for construction. Other methods, for instance, the B9Creatorm.TM. 3-dimensional printer that is sold by B9Creations of Deadwood, S. Dak., USA uses the sliding buildplate. See, e.g., M. Joyce, US Patent App. 2013/0292862 and Y. Chen et al. U.S. Patent Application. 2013/0295212 (both November 7, 2013) Also see Y. Pan et. al., J. Manufacturing Sci. Manufacturing Sci. 134, 051011-1 (October 2012). These techniques introduce a mechanical element that can delay the process, make it more complicated and even distort the final product.

With respect to U.S. Pat.’s “top down” techniques, continuous processes are described to make an object that is three-dimensional. No. 7,892,474, however, this reference doesn’t explain how they can be used in “bottom up” systems that are not destructive to the product being made and limits the kinds of substances that are used for the manufacturing process, which restricts the structural properties of the objects that are made.

Southwell, Xu et al., US Patent Application Publication No. 2012/0251841, discusses liquid radiation curable resins used for additive manufacturing. But, they do contain a cationic photoinitiator and are therefore limited in materials that can be used. They are suggested for fabrication of layers.

Velankar, Pazos, and Cooper, Journal of Applied Polymer Science 162, 1361 (1996) They describe UV-curable urethane acrylates formed through a deblocking chemistry but they are not suggested for additive manufacturing and there is no information on howthose materials may be modified for additive manufacturing.

Therefore new materials and processes are needed to produce 3D objects by additive manufacturing that have acceptable structural properties.

Click here to view the patent on USPTO website.


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