Massachusetts Patent of the Month – January 2022

Additive manufacturing is a growing industry, with many companies turning to these commercialized, extrusion processes to reduce the time, labor, and costs associated with traditional manufacturing. Because of this growth, many variations on the printable material have been developed to meet the needs of different applications. Some printing methods use liquid printable resins which are then cured by UV light.

Thiol-ene chemistry is a well-known reaction scheme which uses a thiol to add an unsaturated carbon-carbon bond. This reaction has had great success in dental cements and implantable medical devices but has never been popularized in jetted inks or additive manufacturing. 

Inkbit, LLC has designed a method in which these thiol-ene printable resins can be used in inkjet 3D printing. These resins are cured by a step-growth mechanism and are significantly less sensitive to oxygen inhibition compared to their acrylic photopolymer counterparts. The step-growth polymerization pushes back the gel point during curing. This, combined with lower oxygen sensitivity, allows a greater and more reliable degree of cure. Improved curing means less shrinkage and warping and more precise control of elasticity and density.

However, these resins cannot simply replace a conventional photo-curable resin. The thiol-ene resin requires a lower viscosity than a conventional resin. Inkbit’s resin has been carefully formulated to meet specific reaction characteristics which make the thiol-ene resin suitable for a UV inkjet 3D printer. This formula included a thiol monomer, alkene monomer, and polymerization initiator. Their formula is stable over time, has lower viscosity, and has optimal polymerization compared to other thiol-ene resins.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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