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3D printer prints sand grain-size models at record speed

Vienna University of Technology / Reuters

An electron microscope photograph shows a nano-scale F1 racing car model created by a newly developed 3D printing technique for nano structures, made available to Reuters March 29, 2012. Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology have set a new world speed record for creating 3D nano objects. The University team creates their grain of sand-size structures in just four minutes, a fraction of the time that other items have previously been printed. Making complex large 3D structures in the past would take hours or even days but with the newly developed 3D laser printer, the scientists can speed that up by a factor of 500 or in some cases 1,000 times. The process called "two-photon lithography" involves using a focused laser beam to harden liquid resin in order to create micro objects of solid polymer. The scientists said the technique could be developed to make small biomedical parts to be used by doctors.

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. 

 A racecar printed at the Vienna University of Technology that's 285 nanometers long, about 1/1000 the width of a human hair. 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.

-- Reported by InnovationNewsDaily

Vienna University of Technology / Reuters

A handout electron microscope photograph shows a nano-scale model of London's Tower Bridge.

Vienna University of Technology / Reuters

An electron microscope photograph shows a nano-scale model of Vienna's St. Stephans cathedral created by a newly developed 3D printing technique for nano structures, made available to Reuters March 29.