Three-dimensional metallic microstructures have attracted a significant attention with their unique properties to be employed in a vast range of applications. However, the drawbacks of existing manufacturing technologies have prompted researchers’ interest in polymer 3D printing for the creation of complex micro 3D structures followed by metallization. Yet, the conventional metallization techniques may hinder the uniformity of metallic layer. Hence in this paper, we have established micro 3D printing with a catalyst resin which enables uniform metallization of complex microstructure surfaces through electroless deposition (ELD). The resin is infused with catalyst precursor to facilitate catalytic action required for ELD. The developed, optimized procedure of ELD with pre-treatment of structures enhances the quality of metallization through the uniform coating on both internal and external surfaces of the microstructure. As such, the technology promotes ELD of any required metal on microstructure surface with excellent surface finish, conductivity, or magnetism as required by the researcher. Furthermore, the technology is capable of manufacturing micro 3D structures of fine resolutions of few tens of micro-meters in a regular micro 3D printer. To demonstrate the application of this technique in a practical scenario, a 3D printed mini wheel was magnetized and functioned as a magnetically activated microrobot under an external magnetic field. And the proposed method displayed exceptional potential in manufacturing complex metallic micro 3D structures with excellent properties as required in an environmentally friendly way and at a significantly reduced cost for a vast range of applications. And this proved to be a much-improved alternative to the conventional techniques of manufacturing metallic micro 3D structures.
- Catalyst resin, Micro 3D printing, Electroless deposition, Metallization, Magnetically activated microrobot
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- General Materials Science
- Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering