Projection stereolithography (SLA) is a powerful advanced manufacturing tool used in a wide variety of applications, but usually limited to relatively small components. We explored the feasibility of developing a large-area projection SLA system with the end goal of fabricating highly controlled, porous silicone elastomers with a cross-sectional area of at least 500 mm x 500 mm. Materials at this scale are relevant to components in aerospace, automotive, biomedical, and specialized applications. Actinic platinum-catalyzed hydrosilylation was evaluated as a technique to fabricate spatially patterned silicone elastomers. The combination of a Cp*PtMe3 catalyst with an anthracure sensitizer resulted in cure times under 20 seconds, thus demonstrating curing of silicones at three-dimensional (3D) printing-relevant time scales. We determined that SLA of silicones enables the production of components with finer features and complements existing commercial methods for printing silicones such as direct ink writing and ink jetting.
Our study leveraged and enhanced Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's advanced materials and manufacturing core competencies. Our results support the Laboratory Director's initiative to develop rapid, efficient advanced manufacturing technologies, and our work has drawn interest from other Department of Energy national laboratories and academic collaborators.
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