Meet Chunguang Xia,s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF). An experienced 3D printing technologist, Chung discusses PµSL technology’s role in bridging the gap between macro and nano 3D printers.
Q: What’s your background?
A: I started to design 3D printers while studying for my Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. After graduation, I moved to the semiconductor process equipment industry. At Lam Research and later ASML, I worked on developing deposition tools including PECVD and PEALD, and later a EUV lithography tool.
Q: How did you first get interested in 3D Printing?
A: During my Ph.D. program, I researched micro bioreactors. These reactors were expected to imbed microchannels of 50µm diameter. I needed a high-precision tool to fabricate these micro features. Micro 3D printing seemed like the best choice, so I started to design and build a micro 3D printer based on LCOS chips.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of commercializing PµSL technology?
A: When I looked at the 3D printing industry, I saw printers serving two segments. The first is printers focused on printing larger parts quickly where the best achievable resolutions were around 50µm. These machines print parts with tolerances around 100µm or larger. The second segment focuses on sub-micron resolution, printing parts smaller than 5mm. I saw that there was clearly a gap between these two segments. Academia and industry needed a 3D printer that covered this gap. BMF’s PµSL technology bridges this gap.
Q: What sorts of problems does the technology try to solve?
A: We are trying to print high-resolution micro-sized parts at a reasonable print speed. From SLA to DLP to FDM, the existing 3D printing technologies could not increase the resolution to 10 µm or better in small, micro-sized parts due to the physical limitations of the hardware. With BMF’s printers, we can make this happen by introducing our proprietary multi-exposure technology and advanced roller coating method to achieve a fast, thin layer coating.
Q: What is your current role at BMF?
A: As the co-founder and CTO, I manage product development and engineering, setting the company’s innovation direction and looking for potential new applications for BMF printers.
Q: Are there any trends in the industry you are excited about?
A: Industries from various sectors including micro-molding, biomedical devices, MEMS, communication, and wearable products are starting to recognize the potential benefit of BMF technologies: low cost, quick turn-around, advanced internal structure for better performance, and more. As BMF continues to pump out new technologies, more customers will benefit from the high-precision micro 3D printing.
Q: What is your vision for the 3D printing industry over the next ten years?
A: The market drives the technology. 3D printing is an important addition to traditional manufacturing methods. Industry will continue to demand higher and higher requirements for 3D printing. Looking at the mechanical drawings coming from most industries, the dimensions in the drawings always come with the nominal value and the tolerance requirements. Mechanical parts typically come with a default tolerance of 100µm. For critical dimensions, the tolerance requirement is usually less than 50µm. Over the next ten years, the 3D printing industry will be driven towards precision printing at a reasonable speed. To do that, the industry will need new technologies to print various materials that can control the dimensions of the printed parts within the industrial tolerance requirement.
For more information on PµSL, download the complete white paper: Introduction to 3D Printing with PµSL