3D Printing

Original procedure developed by Nicholas Fang and adapted by Joseph Muskin, Matthew Ragusa, Kungway Chang, and Ian McInerny from the Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. See "Three-Dimensional Printing Using a Photoinitiated Polymer," J. Chem. Educ., 2010, 87 (5), pp 512–514.

Two chess rooks are created using 3D printing. Light supplied by a computer projector creates free radicals which induce polymerization of 1,6-hexanediol diacrylate. After each layer is polymerized, the elevator is slightly lowered and the process is repeated. A dye is included to prevent light from penetrating much below the surface of the solution.


  • Wear eye protection
  • Chemical gloves required


Step 1. This experiment uses a computer with PowerPoint and connected to a video projector, a magnifying glass, mirror, and a platform elevator. Adjust the focus so maximum sharpness occurs at the elevator platform.          

Step 2. Fill the beaker with monomer solution to just above the level of the platform-Red light is used for alignment but does not cause polymerization.

Step 3. For each level, shine white light in the desired pattern. Avoid long exposures that produce too much heat. Darken the screen whenever the stage is advanced.- Polymer grows

Step 4. Recover solution then rinse with water.

Step 5. Use a razor blade to remove pieces.

Step 6. Small chess pieces are produced from the used pattern.


Stock Materials

  • 1,6-Hexanediol diacrylate (Aldrich 246816)
  • Sudan I (Aldrich 103624)
  • Phenylbis(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl) phosphine oxide (Aldrich 511447)


  • Computer, PowerPoint, Projector
  • Magnifying glass, mirror, and a platform elevator

YouTube Link: