A new era of 3D printing technology is now upon us. Created by researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna), this high-precision printer is able to create microscopically small objects on a nanometer scale — at a speed orders of magnitude faster than similar devices. To be impressed with how accurate and quick this machine really is, you only need to see the short video below featuring a mere 4 minute creation time for a race car smaller than a grain of sand… in fact, the machine just set a new world record for speed. The technology works much like the larger devices we are familiar with:
“The 3D printer uses a liquid resin, which is hardened at precisely the correct spots by a focused laser beam. The focal point of the laser beam is guided through the resin by movable mirrors and leaves behind a polymerized line of solid polymer, just a few hundred nanometers wide.”
What can we expect in the future from such incredible advances? Because of the much quicker speed of printing, insanely precise objects can now be printed on a much larger scale. Mechanical parts for the medical field are one clear market, with one possibility being the creation of tissue bearing scaffolds for organ replacement. Bio-compatible resins are already in the works at TU Vienna and with further advances in chemistry and mechanical technology we may soon see the precision of the machines increased to just tens of nanometers.
The video below shows the 3d-printing process in real time. Due to the very fast guiding of the laser beam, 100 layers, consisting of approximately 200 single lines each, are produced in four minutes.