Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Impulsively actuated jets from thin liquid films for high-resolution printing applications

Matthew S. Browna1 c1, C. Frederik Brasza1, Yiannis Ventikosa2 and Craig B. Arnolda1

a1 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

a2 Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PJ, UK


Blister-actuated laser-induced forward transfer (BA-LIFT) is a versatile printing technique in which fine jets of ink are ejected from a thin donor film onto an acceptor substrate, enabling high-resolution patterns to be formed. Fluid ejections are initiated by the rapid expansion of micrometre-sized blisters that form on a polymer film underneath the ink layer. Recent work has demonstrated that these ejections exhibit novel flow phenomena due to the unique dimensions and geometry of the BA-LIFT configuration. In this work, we study the dynamics of BA-LIFT printing using a computational model in which fluid is forced by a boundary that deforms according to experimental time-resolved measurements of an expanding blister profile. This allows the model’s predictions to be unambiguously correlated with experimental blister-actuated ejections without any fitting parameters. First, we validate the model’s predictive capabilities against experimental results, including the ability to accurately reproduce the size, shape and temporal evolution of the jet as well as the total volume of ink released. The validated model is then used to interrogate the flow dynamics in order to better understand the mechanisms for fluid ejection. Finally, parametric studies are conducted to investigate the influence of ink density, surface tension, viscosity and film thickness as well as the size of the blister used. These results provide key insights into avenues for optimization and better control of the BA-LIFT process for improved resolution and repeatability of the printed features.

(Received September 05 2011)

(Reviewed June 18 2012)

(Accepted June 28 2012)

(Online publication August 29 2012)

Key Words:

  • breakup/coalescence;
  • jets;
  • thin films


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