Researchers have developed a 3D printer that can create objects as tiny as 0.001 millimeters.
A team of researchers from South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have developed a 3D printing technology that is capable of producing high-resolution 3D patterns as tiny as 0.001 millimeter in size, which happens to be thinner than a human red blood cell. Meaning that, the printed shapes are too small for the eye to even see.
According to the team, led by Professor Jang-Ung Park, this method works not unlike any in-home inkjet printer, except for that the fact this machine uses special inks that can be layer to form microscopic 3D designs like vertical or helix-shaped pillars and straight or rounded walls. With such a technology, the researchers hope that one day users will be able to create bendable or curved electronic circuits on a flexible substrate, ranging from low conductivity plastics to high conductivity metal materials. Not to mention, such advancements would drastically simplify and expedite the prototyping process.
“This new technology could bring us a step closer to realizing wearable 3D printing electronic devices with enhanced stretchability and electrical and mechanical reliability,” says Park.
Whereas today’s 3D printers have difficulty extruding smooth objects, and as a result possess rougher textures, this new technology can eliminate these shortcomings altogether by operating at higher rates of precision. In fact, the maximum printing resolution represents an improvement of more than 50 times over its predecessors.