Hydrophilic elastomers for microcontact printing of polar inks
A moderately hydrophilic, thermoplastic elastomer poly(ether-ester)) was investigated as a stamp material for microcontact printing of a polar ink: pentaerythritol-tetrakis-(3-mercaptopropionate). Stamps with a relief structure were produced from this polymer by hot embossing, and a comparison was made with conventional poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) and oxygen-plasma-treated PDMS. It is shown that the hydrophilic stamps can be used for the repetitive printing (without re-inking) of at least 10 consecutive patterns, which preserve their etch resistance, and this in rather sharp contrast to conventional and oxygen plasma-treated PDMS stamps. It is argued that these enhanced printing characteristics of the hydrophilic stamps originate from an improved wetting and solubility of polar inks in the hydrophilic stamp.