3D Printer Breaks Printing Records. Prints Five Meters Per Second With Nano Precision

Posted on March 13, 2012

Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have broken printing speed records using a two-photon litography technique. The technology can print at speeds up to five meters in one second with nano precision. The technology can be used to print nanometer scale objects, such as the cathedral above and the 285 micrometer racecar below. The model of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna below was printed smaller than a grain of sand.

The 3D printer uses a liquid resin, which is hardened at precisely the correct spots by a focused laser beam. The laser beam is guided through the resin by movable mirrors. It leaves behind a polymerized line of solid polymer, which is only a few hundred nanometers wide. In contrast to conventional 3D printing techniques, solid material can be created anywhere within the liquid resin rather than on top of the previously created layer only. The working surface does not have to be specially prepared before the next layer can be produced, which greatly reduces the printing time.

Professor Jurgen Stampfl from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at the TU Vienna, says, "The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second - our device can do five meters in one second."

This video shows the 3D printing process of a 285 micrometer racecar in real time. 100 layers, consisting of approximately 200 single lines each, are produced in just four minutes. The vehicle begins to appear around the 22 second mark in the clip. Take a look:

More from Science Space & Robots