Measuring UV Curing Parameters of Commercial Photopolymers used in Additive Manufacturing
Joseph A. Bennett
A testing methodology was developed to expose photopolymer resins and measure the cured material to determine two key parameters related to the photopolymerization process: Ec (critical energy to initiate polymerization) and Dp (penetration depth of curing light). Five commercially available resins were evaluated under exposure from 365 nm and 405 nm light at varying power densities and energies. Three different methods for determining the thickness of the cured resin were evaluated. Caliper measurements, stylus profilometry, confocal laser scanning microscopy showed similar results for hard materials while caliper measurement of a soft, elastomeric material proved inaccurate. Working curves for the five photopolymers showed unique behavior both within and among the resins as a function of curing light wavelength. Variations in Ec and Dp for the five resins were as large as 7X and 10X, respectively. Variations of this magnitude, if unknown to the user and not controlled for, will clearly affect printed part quality. This points to the need for a standardized approach to determining and disseminating these, and perhaps, other key parameters.