Teeny tiny race car zips into existence on high-speed nanoprinter

What's about four times the width of a human hair and goes from zero to existing in four minutes flat? If you guessed "that race car with the flat tires in the picture right there," you'd be right. It's small, it's fast and there are lasers involved.

This race car, which is only about 100 µm wide, was created at the Vienna University of Technology using a nanoscale 3D printer. Like a conventional 3D printer, resin is used to make shapes, but unlike a conventional 3D printer, the resin is hardened with a laser. To make such super tiny objects, you have to use a super tiny laser beam, and tune it so that the only place were the resin can absorb two photons at once is in the exact center of the beam. Such precision means that a lot of detail is possible, and it also makes the process fast: printing this entire car out of 100 individual layers only took about four minutes.

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Having a fast and precise process like this means that you can make much bigger things in a given amount of time, or many more smaller things. As with anything else, nanotechnology benefits from economies of scale, and being able to do more means that things will get more accessible (and cheaper). What kinds of things? Well, the researchers who got this new technique to work suggest everything from biotech construction parts to scaffolds for growing new organs.

Watch a real-time video of the laser 3D printing a race car, below.

TU Wien, via KurzweilAI

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