Inkjet Printing of Viscous Monodisperse Microdroplets by Laser-Induced Flow Focusing
The on-demand generation of viscous microdroplets to print functional or biological materials remains challenging using conventional inkjet-printing methods, mainly due to aggregation and clogging issues. In an effort to overcome these limitations, we implement a jetting method to print viscous microdroplets by laser-induced shockwaves. We experimentally investigate the dependence of the jetting regimes and the droplet size on the laser-pulse energy and on the inks' physical properties. The range of printable liquids with our device is significantly extended compared to conventional inkjet printers's performances. In addition, the laser-induced flow-focusing phenomenon allows us to controllably generate viscous microdroplets up to 210 mPa s with a diameter smaller than the nozzle from which they originated (200 mu m). Inks containing proteins are printed without altering their functional properties, thus demonstrating that this jetting technique is potentially suitable for bioprinting.