Thermal post-curing as an efficient strategy to eliminate process parameter sensitivity in the mechanical properties of two-photon polymerized materials

J. Bauer; A. G. Izard; Y. Zhang; T. Baldacchini; L. Valdevit

Optics Express 28 (2020) 20362-20362

Two-photon polymerization direct laser writing (TPP-DLW) is one of the most versatile technologies to additively manufacture complex parts with nanoscale resolution. However, the wide range of mechanical properties that results from the chosen combination of multiple process parameters imposes an obstacle to its widespread use. Here we introduce a thermal post-curing route as an effective and simple method to increase the mechanical properties of acrylate-based TPP-DLW-derived parts by 20-250% and to largely eliminate the characteristic coupling of processing parameters, material properties and part functionality. We identify the underlying mechanism of the property enhancement as a self-initiated thermal curing reaction, which robustly facilitates the high property reproducibility that is essential for any application of TPP-DLW.