Journal of Materials Research


Finite element analysis of blister formation in laser-induced forward transfer

Nicholas T. Kattamisa1, Matthew S. Browna1 and Craig B. Arnolda1 c1

a1 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544


Blister-actuated laser-induced forward transfer (BA-LIFT) is a direct-write technique, which enables high-resolution printing of sensitive inks for electronic or biological applications. During BA-LIFT, a polymer laser-absorbing layer deforms into an enclosed blister and ejects ink from an adjacent donor film. In this work, we develop a finite element model to replicate and predict blister expansion dynamics during BA-LIFT. Model inputs consist of standard mechanical properties, strain-rate-dependent material parameters, and a parameter encapsulating the thermal and optical properties of the film. We present methods to determine these material parameters from experimental measurements. The simulated expansion dynamics are shown to be in good agreement with experimental measurements using two different polymer layer thicknesses. Finally, the ability to model high-fluence blister rupture is demonstrated through a strain-based failure approach.

(Received January 16 2011)

(Accepted June 21 2011)

Key Words:

  • Laser ablation;
  • Polymer;
  • Stress/strain relationship


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: