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Although many precision fabrication techniques have demonstrated the ability to produce microstructures and micro-devices with sub 100 nm accuracy, we are yet to see a scalable manufacturing process for large-area production. One promising solution to scalable micro- and nanofabrication is thermal roller imprinting. However, existing investigations on thermal roller imprinting revealed poor pattern transfer fidelity, especially for high aspect ratio features. The standard roller imprinting process suffers from the lack of an effective holding and cooling stage so that the adverse effects from the viscoelastic nature of polymers are not managed. To rectify this problem and further improve the production rate, a new extrusion roller imprinting process with a variotherm belt mold is designed, and its prototype was established at a laboratory scale. The process testing results demonstrate that a 30 μm sawtooth pattern can be faithfully transferred to extruded polyethylene film at take-up speeds higher than 10 m/min. The results are promising in that microfeatures or even nanofeatures may be successfully replicated by a robust and scalable industrial process suitable for large-area, continuous production.




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Advances and Challenges in Manufacturing Automation




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