Available Technology

Optically clear photo-polymerization resists for additive manufacturing of radio-opaque parts

3D printing of parts utilizes light to cross link and solidify ( i.e photopolymerize) a liquid plastic that is used to build up the part. Recent developments in photo-polymerization based additive manufacturing (AM) have opened up the design space for fabrication of arbitrarily complex 3D structures by enabling precise localized control of geometry and materials. Unfortunately, one is unable to fully exploit the capabilities of AM due to the lack of metrology tools for non-destructive inspection and verification of internal features. As a result, it is not possible to verify whether a fabricated AM part meets the design tolerances, thereby severely limiting AM adoption in fabrication of functional parts. X-ray computed tomography (CT) is a promising technique for AM metrology that is capable of imaging internal features. However, polymer parts poorly attenuate X-rays and appear transparent due to the low atomic number of the constituent elements. What is needed is a radio-opaque photopolymer so that 3D X-ray computed tomography can be used to non-destructively inspect the internal dimensions of the part.
Patent Abstract: 
LLNL has developed an optically clear iodine-doped resist that increases the mean atomic number of the part. AM parts fabricated with this resist appear radio-opaque due to an increase in the X-ray attenuation by a factor of 10 to 20 times.
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