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  • Received: Aug. 3, 2020

    Accepted: Sep. 18, 2020

    Posted: Sep. 18, 2020

    Published Online: Nov. 13, 2020

    The Author Email: Shih-Chi Chen (

    DOI: 10.1364/PRJ.404334

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    Wei Lin, Dihan Chen, Shih-Chi Chen. Emerging micro-additive manufacturing technologies enabled by novel optical methods[J]. Photonics Research, 2020, 8(12): 12001827

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Photonics Research, Vol. 8, Issue 12, 12001827 (2020)

Emerging micro-additive manufacturing technologies enabled by novel optical methods

Wei Lin1,2, Dihan Chen1, and Shih-Chi Chen1,*

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China
  • 2Tianjin Key Laboratory of Micro-scale Optical Information Science and Technology, Institute of Modern Optics, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China


This paper presents a comprehensive review of recent advances in micro-additive manufacturing enabled by novel optical methods with an emphasis on photopolymerization-based printing processes. Additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, has become an important engineering solution to construct customized components or functional devices at low cost. As a green manufacturing technology, 3D printing has the advantages of high energy efficiency, low material consumption, and high precision. The rapid advancement of 3D printing technology has broadened its applications from laboratory research to industrial manufacturing. Generally, 3D objects to be printed are constructed digitally [e.g., via computer-aided design (CAD) programs] by connecting a 3D dot array, where a dot is defined as a voxel through mechanical, electrical, or optical means. The voxel size ranges from a few orders of magnitude of the wavelength of light to the sub-diffraction limit, achieved by material nonlinearity and precise power thresholding. In recent years, extensive research in optical additive manufacturing has led to various breakthroughs in quality, rate, and reproducibility. In this paper, we review various micro-3D printing techniques, including single-photon and two-photon processes, with a focus on innovative optical methods, e.g., ultrafast beam shaping, digital holography, and temporal focusing. We also review and compare recent technological advances in serial and parallel scanning systems from the perspectives of resolution, rate, and repeatability, where the strengths and weaknesses of different methods are discussed for both fundamental and industrial applications.

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