Abstract

Microscale surface structures are commonly found on macroscale bodies of natural creatures for their unique functions. However, it is difficult to fabricate such multi-scale geometry with conventional stereolithography processes that rely on either laser or digital micromirror device (DMD). More specifically, the DMD-based mask projection method displays the image of a cross-section of the part on the resin to fabricate the entire layer efficiently; however, its display resolution is limited by the building area. In comparison, the laser-based vector scanning method builds smooth features using a focused laser beam with desired beam-width resolution; however, it has less throughput for its sequential nature. In this paper, we studied the hybrid-light-source stereolithography process that integrates both optical light sources to facilitate the fabrication of macro-objects with microscale surface structures (called micro-textures in the paper). The hardware system uses a novel calibration approach that ensures pixel-level dimensional accuracy across the two light sources. The software system enables designing the distribution and density of specific microscale textures on a macro-object by generating projection images and laser toolpaths for the two integrated light sources. Several test cases were fabricated to demonstrate the capability of the developed process. A large fabrication area (76.8 mm × 80.0 mm) with 50 µm microfeatures can be achieved with a high throughput.

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