Slot die coating is growing in popularity because it is a low operational cost and easily scaled processing technique for depositing thin and uniform films rapidly, while minimizing material waste. The complex inner geometry of conventional slot dies require expensive machining that limits accessibility and experimentation. In order to overcome these issues this study follows an open hardware approach, which uses an open source 3-D printer to both fabricate the slot die and then to functionalize a 3-D slot die printing system. Polymer materials are tested and selected for compatibility with common solvents and used to fabricate a custom slot die head. This slot die is then integrated into a 3-D printer augmented with a syringe pump to form an additive manufacturing platform for thin film semiconductor devices. The full design of the slot die system is disclosed here using an open source license including software and operational protocols. This study demonstrates that functional lab-grade slot dies may be 3-D printed using low-cost open source hardware methods A case study using NiO2 found an RMS value 0.486 nm, thickness of 17–49 nm, and a maximum optical transmission of 99.1%, which shows this additive manufacturing approach to slot die depositions as well of fabrication is capable of producing viable layers of advanced electronic materials. Using this method, a cost savings of over 17,000% was obtained when compared to commercial slot die systems for laboratories.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jmpearce/182/