Rapid production of polymer microstructures
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The goal of this research is to develop an integrated polymer embossing module, with which difficult-to-emboss polymer microstructures and microparts can be fabricated in a cost-effective manner. In particular, the research addresses three major limitations of the hot embossing process, namely, long cycle time, difficulty in producing shell patterns, and difficulty in building up a high embossing pressure on thick substrates. To overcome these limitations, three new technical approaches two-station embossing, rubber-assisted embossing, and through-thickness embossing were developed and investigated. Fundamental understanding of these new embossing techniques were achieved through extensive experimental and theoretical studies involving parametric experiments, rheological characterization, surface investigation, mathematical modeling, and computer simulation.