A novel projection based electro-stereolithography (PES) process for production of 3D polymer-particle composite objects

Yayue Pan*, Abhishek Patil, Ping Guo, Chi Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose - Polymer-particle composites, which have demonstrated wide applications ranging from energy harvesting and storage, biomedical applications, electronics and environmental sensing to aerospace applications, have been investigated for decades. However, fabricating polymer-particle composites with controlled distribution of particles in polymer continues to be a fundamental challenge. As to date, a few additive manufacturing (AM) technologies can fabricate composites, however, with a limited choice of materials or limited dispersion control. Against this background, this research investigated a hybrid polymer-particle composite manufacturing process, projection electro-stereolithography (PES) process, which integrates electrostatic deposition and projection based stereolithography (SL) technologies. Design/methodology/approach - In PES process, a photoconductive film collects charged particles in the regions illuminated by light. Then, collected particles are transferred from the film to a polymer layer with defined patterns. Lastly, a digital mask is used to pattern the light irradiation of the digital micromirror device chip, selectively curing the photopolymer liquid resin and particles of that layer. By transferring particles from the photoconductive film to the photopolymer in a projection-based SL system, multi-material composites with locally controlled dispersions could be produced. A proof-of-concept PES testbed was developed. Various test cases have been performed to verify the feasibility and effectiveness of the developed approach. Findings - Challenges in this novel AM process, including process design, particle patterning and transferring, are addressed in this paper. It is found that particles can be transferred to a layer of partially cured resin completely and accurately, by using the stamping approach. The transferring rate is related to stamping force and degree of conversion of the recipient layer. The developed hybrid process can fabricate polymer-particle composites with arbitrary dispersion pattern, unlimited printable height and complicated geometries. Originality/value - Although an electrostatic deposition process has been investigated as a 3D printing technology for many years, it is the first attempt to integrate it with projection SL for fabricating multi-material polymer composite components. The novel hybrid process offers unique benefits including local dispersion control, arbitrary filling patterns, wide range of materials, unlimited printable height and arbitrary complicated geometries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalRapid Prototyping Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Electrophoretic deposition
  • Multi-material printing
  • Polymer-particle composite
  • Stereolithography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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