3D Printer Prints Sand Grain-Size Cathedral at Record Speed
A racecar printed at the Vienna University of Technology that's 285 nanometers long, about 1/1000 the width of a human hair.
CREDIT: TU Vienna
You might say this car is small and fast. The same words would apply to the machine that manufactured it — a 3D printer, developed at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria, that can print nanometer-scale objects at record speed for the technique it uses.
The new device prints layers of a liquid resin, developed at the Vienna University of Technology, that hardens to a solid when it's hit with two photons from the printer's laser beam. Continuously-moving mirrors focus the beam to the right place as the printer works. The results have a resolution of hundreds of nanometers, which means each of the sculptures the printer makes is about the size of a grain of sand.
The printer is the fastest yet that uses this technique, called two-photon lithography, the Vienna researchers said. "The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second – our device can do five meters [more than 16 feet] in one second," Jügen Stampfl, a materials scientist at the university, said in a statement.
The advantage of having such a precise printer is that it can make structures that are small enough to work with individual cells, according to the university. They could print scaffolding to grow cells, parts for biotech devices or parts for nanotechnology.