Tag Archives: micro

Top 3D Printing News Last Week: Conference Discount, FabCafe, and IBM

Inside 3D Printing Conference

A roundup of the top 3D printing news from March 18 to March 24:

Nanoscribe: Micro 3D Printer May Enable Industrial Breakthrough

Nanoscribe 3D Printing

Micro 3D printer Nanoscribe is revolutionizing 3D printing on a tiny scale.

Today’s 3D printers can do amazing things, but take a long time to actually create an object – a few hours for an iPhone case and 2,500 hours for a full car. A new desktop 3D printer called Nanoscribe can create complex microstructures incredibly fast – seconds instead of minutes and minutes instead of hours.

Nanoscribe 3D Printer

Michael Thiel, chief scientific officer at Nanoscribe (a spin-off from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany) recently spoke with MIT Technology Review about his company’s new 3D printing technology and the potential impact on producing medical and electronic devices.

Printing microstructures with features a few hundred nanometers in size could be useful for making heart stents, microneedles for painless shots, gecko adhesives, parts for microfluidics chips, and scaffolds for growing cells and tissue. Another important application could be in the electronics industry, where patterning nanoscale features on chips currently involves slow, expensive techniques. 3D printing would quickly and cheaply yield polymer templates that could be used to make metallic structures.

So far, 3D microprinting has been used only in research laboratories because it’s pretty slow. In fact, many research labs around the world use Nanoscribe’s first-generation printer. The new, faster machine will also find commercial use. Thiel says numerous medical, life sciences, and nanotechnology companies are interested in the new machine. “I’m positive that with the faster throughput we get with this new tool, it might have an industrial breakthrough very soon,” he says.

The technology behind most 3D microprinters is called two-photon polymerization. It involves focusing tiny, ultrashort pulses from a near-infrared laser on a light-sensitive material. The material polymerizes and solidifies at the focused spots. As the laser beam moves in three dimensions, it creates a 3D object.

Today’s printers, including Nanoscribe’s present system, keep the laser beam fixed and move the light-sensitive material along three axes using mechanical stages, which slows down printing. To speed up the process, Nanoscribe’s new tool uses a tiny moving mirror to reflect the laser beam at different angles. Thiel says generating multiple light beams with a microlens array could make the process even faster.

Nanoscribe plans to start selling 3D printers later this year.

Nanoscribe 3D Printing Team


Via MIT Technology Review.

Printing Nano-Electronics on Everything: Phones, Planes, Fish Tanks

Foxconn 3D Print a Phone

Imagine you could print a thin layer of micro-electronics on any surface. With 3D printing, this is now a reality – reports the Economist – and that makes any surface a smart surface.

It’s not traditional copper, but rather micro-building blocks of silver.

Silver is a better conductor of electricity than copper, which is typically used in circuits, but silver is expensive and tricky to print because it melts at 962°C. However, by making silver into particles just five nanometres (billionths of a metre) in size, Xerox has produced a silver ink which melts at less than 140°C. That allows it to be printed using inkjet and other processes relatively cheaply, says Paul Smith, the director of research at the laboratory. Only minuscule quantities of silver are used and there is no waste, unlike chemical-etching processes.

Xerox’s PARC research centre in Palo Alto, California, is developing ways to use such inks. These can print circuits for various components, including flexible display screens, sensors and antennae for radio-frequency security tags. With the emergence of additive-manufacturing techniques, it starts to become possible to print such things directly onto the product itself, says Janos Veres, the manager of PARC’s printed-electronics team.

So how difficult would it be to print a phone complete with all its electronic gubbins? Optomec is developing applications which could provide some of the necessary steps. Besides antennae these include edge circuits for the screen, three-dimensional connections for chips, multiple-layer circuits and touch-screen parts. It would also be possible to print the battery. The biggest challenge would be to print the chips that are the brains of the phone. These contain millions of transistors in a square millimetre and are at present made in silicon-fabrication plants costing $10 billion or more. Yet embedding even some circuitry means phones could be made slimmer, as well as reducing the costs of materials and assembly.

The impact of this research is astounding. Now any glass surface can become a phone, planes can have intelligent electronics on their wings, and fish tanks can observe and adjust the water temperature.


Read the full story at the Economist.

Foxconn construction photo by Bert van Dijk used under Creative Commons license.

Micro 3D Printing: How Small Can You Go? Shapeways Shows Us

3D Printing Micro Small

Shapeways featured some of the smallest, yet detailed, 3D printed designs on their blog.

The very small goods included trains, tanks, robots, Rubik’s cubes, and more.

Shapeways 3D Printing Very Small

Check out the whole collection at Shapeways.

3D Printed Nano Objects: New World Record for Micro Printing

A team from the Vienna University of Technology set a new world record this week: 3D printed nano objects in just 4 minutes. Their process, called two-photon lithography, uses a focused laser to harden liquid resin.

Applications? Consider how this process could be used to make micro objects for biomedical research and treatment.

Photo above is a human figure smaller than a grain of sand. Photo below is a detailed cathedral about 50 microns in length.

Read more and see additional photos at Reuters’ World in Nano.