Skyphos 3D Printing Technology
3D printing offers unique & compelling advantages,
it is the new gold-standard.
3D Printing has eclipsed several major manufacturing areas and it’s disruptive nature has the proven ability to attain excellent results. For several years even DIY kits and low-cost systems available have elicited remarkable accuracy and precision. There are three reasons 3D printing has not made it’s way to the micro-scale; resolutions below 100um:
The combination of resolutions (near 1 um), while having a build-area large enough for devices
Suitable materials that are compatible with cells and high optical clarity for microscopy
Computational power of slicing engines suitable for large scale arrays (pillars or repeating structures)
Skyphos uses DLP technology and filtered UV-light to cure FDA approved resins. The combination of our patent pending system (a special set of optics, mechanics, the Gillespie Algorithms, processing software) along with these resins allow printing at this resolution.
Skyphos has worked tirelessly over the last 24 months to eliminate these hurdles and is pleased to provide our services. If you need 10 to 10,000 - or more, you can expect to see them in about 1 week. Our engineering team has reduced the cycle time on even large scale devices to the point at which we can compete against methods traditionally reserved for high-throughput like hot-embossing and injection molding. The completed project allows your company a agile development cycle, from beginning to end, in much shorter time-frame.
To fabricate 3D models, existing in both the micro and macro sizes,
Skyphos needed to accomplish three critical metrics:
Reducing pixel size &
maintain build area:
A word about resolution, most 3D printer companies define their resolution as the smallest pixel defined on the build platform. In the case of DLP based printers it is incorrectly stated as a single pixel pitch or size. It is an error to claim this because in all cases we are aware of, it requires 2 pixels sharing a side to create a solid, and 3 pixel spacing to accurately create a void.
Reviewing LCD and DLP displays, the minimal pixel aspects (XY) are 50 um, meaning the smallest solid would be 100 um, the smallest void 150 um. In the SLA category (Form Labs) the smallest Gaussian full beam half width is around 75 um, meaning a 150 um solid and 225 um void. Both are limited in application to the upper end of microfluidic regime.
The Skyphos pixel aspect range is single microns and up, enabling features below 10 um and voids or channels down to 15 um.
& high precision resins:
One of the main hurdles for 3D printing has been the availability of photoinitiators which are bio-compatible; most are cytotoxic.
A second hurdle on this front was finding one which can create optically clear and transparent devices while maintaining a low auto-fluorescence so that cell tagging may be achieved. In addition, microfluidics requires surface roughnesses below 1 um.
For 3D printing this creates a challenge in that each layer printed has some artifacts which degrade this ability. With the Gillespie Algorithms (TM), these are all but eliminated. On average Skyphos achieves below 200 nm surface roughness for all exposed areas.
Computer processing power
& slicing engines:
The final hurdle has been the implementation of a slicing engine which can operate at minimal feature sizes, while maintaining proper data capture and eliminates computer crashing.
There were two steps: STLs and large arrays:
STLs: loose data, and at the sizes microfluidics requires for operation - the slicing engines available simply were not built to provide proper transfer. We developed our own.
Large arrays of pillars - on the order of 15k or more begin to cause issues arising from the processing power or computers and the method STLs use to create layers. We created the program which allows transfer from large 2D array designs to complete 3D renders.
If you can’t process your design, call us we have been there, know the pain and are ready to help