Nanoscale 3D printing

This 3D-printed model of the Tower Bridge is only 200 micrometers long. To put that into perspective, the distance between the towers is the width of a human hair. This model is the product of research at the additive manufacturing department of the Vienna University of Technology

The models were fabricated much like normal stereolithography – a laser shines onto a vat of light-sensitive resin. The resin hardens when exposed to light, and the model is built up layer by layer. These nanoscale models were made using a process called “two-photon lithography,” something we’re not going to pretend we understand completely but here’s a nice paper that provides a good overview. Needless to say, the precision these prints exhibit are nearly ludicrous. The researchers claim a precision of ±1µm, a respectable amount of precision for very high-tech machining applications.

The researches posted a video of the fabrication of a nanoscale F1 race car filmed in real-time. Check that out after the break.

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Build your own Stereolithographic 3D printer

[Andy's] 3D printer build uses lasers to create objects from goo. The Stereolithographic process uses resin that is cured by UV light to create the finished product. A single laser mounted to a CNC gantry is able to precisely target a point on the surface of the resin to begin the printing process. As the layers are built up, the stage, which is mounted on the Z axis, slowly sinks into the resin vat. So basically you’re printing from the bottom up but the laser never moves up or down. There’s a time-compressed video of an object being printed embedded after the break. It illustrates the process better than we can describe it.

We think [Andy] really went all out with his write-up of the build process. The quality he achieves in his prints is quite excellent, but you must consider the cost versus an extrusion-based 3D printer. One liter of the UV resin he prints from can cost over $200.

If this sounds familiar it’s because we got a sneak peek at it back when we looked in on his Delta robot work.

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