• Photonics Research
  • Vol. 8, Issue 12, 12001827 (2020)
Wei Lin1、2, Dihan Chen1, and Shih-Chi Chen1、*
Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China
  • 2Tianjin Key Laboratory of Micro-scale Optical Information Science and Technology, Institute of Modern Optics, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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    This paper presents a comprehensive review of recent advances in micro-additive manufacturing enabled by novel optical methods with an emphasis on photopolymerization-based printing processes. Additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, has become an important engineering solution to construct customized components or functional devices at low cost. As a green manufacturing technology, 3D printing has the advantages of high energy efficiency, low material consumption, and high precision. The rapid advancement of 3D printing technology has broadened its applications from laboratory research to industrial manufacturing. Generally, 3D objects to be printed are constructed digitally [e.g., via computer-aided design (CAD) programs] by connecting a 3D dot array, where a dot is defined as a voxel through mechanical, electrical, or optical means. The voxel size ranges from a few orders of magnitude of the wavelength of light to the sub-diffraction limit, achieved by material nonlinearity and precise power thresholding. In recent years, extensive research in optical additive manufacturing has led to various breakthroughs in quality, rate, and reproducibility. In this paper, we review various micro-3D printing techniques, including single-photon and two-photon processes, with a focus on innovative optical methods, e.g., ultrafast beam shaping, digital holography, and temporal focusing. We also review and compare recent technological advances in serial and parallel scanning systems from the perspectives of resolution, rate, and repeatability, where the strengths and weaknesses of different methods are discussed for both fundamental and industrial applications.


    Fabrication of arbitrary and complex 3D objects is one of the core issues of additive manufacturing. In general, three common manufacturing processes are adopted: forming, subtractive, and additive manufacturing. In the forming process, a workpiece is reshaped into the desired geometry. The process does not involve material addition or subtraction, e.g., vacuum molding, superplastic forming, and compression molding [1,2]. As to subtractive manufacturing, it typically requires the use of cutting tools or high-power lasers to remove unwanted parts from the workpiece. Apart from these two approaches, additive manufacturing, i.e., 3D printing, adds, rather than reshapes or removes, materials to construct 3D objects with desired geometry. 3D printing is not only cost effective and energy saving but also delivers results with lower material consumption, better customizability, and higher precision [35]. As such, 3D printing has become widely adopted and extensively applied in many fields, e.g., medicine [68], microelectronics [911], optics [1215], education [16], and architecture [17]. Moreover, with the introduction of commercial computer-aided design (CAD) software and reasonably-priced printers, design and fabrication of 3D objects are greatly simplified for even untrained people. The once professional manufacturing technique has now become so accessible that it attracts a growing number of users. The global market for 3D printing has been growing at a rate of 20.6% from 2013 to 2020 [18]. The market was valued at $11.58 billion in 2019 and expected at $35.38 billion in 2027 [19].

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    Wei Lin, Dihan Chen, Shih-Chi Chen. Emerging micro-additive manufacturing technologies enabled by novel optical methods[J]. Photonics Research, 2020, 8(12): 12001827
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    Category: Instrumentation and Measurements
    Received: Aug. 3, 2020
    Accepted: Sep. 18, 2020
    Published Online: Nov. 13, 2020
    The Author Email: Shih-Chi Chen (scchen@mae.cuhk.edu.hk)