KIT develops erasable ink for 3D Printing

3-dimensional microstructures can be written using a laser, erased, and rewritten. (Photo: KIT)

Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a method to erase the ink used for 3D printing. In this way, the small structures of up to 100 nm in size can be erased and rewritten repeatedly. One nanometer corresponds to one millionth of a millimeter. This development opens up many new applications of 3D fabrication in biology or materials sciences, for instance.

Direct laser writing means that a computer-controlled, focused laser beam generates the structure in a photoresist similar to a pen. The scientists have now developed an ink with reversible bonding, the building blocks of which can be separated from each other. The printed structure is simply erased by immersing it into a chemical solvent. At the point of erasure, a new structure can be written. In this way, the structure can be modified repeatedly.

The new process is presented in the renowned journal Angewandte Chemie under the heading “Cleaving Direct Laser Written Microstructures on Demand.” The reviewers rated this publication a “very important paper.”