High Precision 3D Printed Frames for High Energy Density Physics Experimentation

Sarah Shores Prins, a PhD student in Dr. Thomas White’s Research Group at the University of Nevada, Reno studies high energy density physics including measuring thermal properties of warm dense matter. The team was working to create a robust X-ray radiography platform to observe warm dense matter and measure transport properties of warm dense materials. Working in large-scale laser facilities, their experiments heavily relied on accurate alignment.

One of their experiments required a 3D printed frame with important alignment features to hold the primary target material. Experimental success relies heavily on accurate alignment, so the accuracy is the frame’s features is critical. The team was looking for a 3D printing solution that could accurately fabricate their frames.

Finding the Right Printer

The frame contains small features including a 0.3mm diameter borehole, 0.2mm diameter posts, and sharp angles. Despite the fine features, the overall size of the frame is relatively large at approximately 5mm x 4mm x 1mm.

CAD drawing of the 3D Printed Frame for High Energy Density Physics Experimentation

The team had to find a 3D printer that was capable of accurately printing the small features while also accommodating the relatively large overall part size. They had the parts externally fabricated by several different printers but kept receiving parts that were not accurate.

Printing the Frames with PµSL

After researching high-resolution printing options, the team came across Projection Micro Stereolithography (PµSL) technology. It seemed like the microArch S240, a 10µm system from BMF, would be able to accurately print the frame’s features and has a large enough build platform to accommodate the overall size of the frames. Prins contacted BMF and had 50 frames printed for their experiments. The features on the parts printed on the S240 were accurate and much improved for the team’s experimental needs.

3D Printed Frame for High Density Physics Experiments
Sharp Angles on the Printed Frame

“The success of our experiments relies heavily on accurate alignment, which requires complete resolution of the frame’s alignment features. BMF’s microArch S240 printer was able to fully resolve the small features as well as accommodate the relatively large total size of our part. Thanks to BMF’s state-of-the-art micron-scale resolution printers, we are able to have the clean, high quality, fully resolved parts needed for accurate alignment.”

– Sarah Shores Prins, PhD student, University of Nevada, Reno