3D printing has been tipped as the next frontier of piracy, but it could also be the next frontier of high-speed nanoscale construction if research at the Vienna University of Technology pans out. A team there has produced a 285 micrometer long 3D printed F1 car model using a system called “two-photo lithography”, hardening liquid resin using a precisely focused laser. The scale, although impressive, isn’t the real advance however, it’s the speed at which the model was created: just four minutes, orders of magnitude faster than previous printers.
To put it into context, the Vienna team’s printer can create hardened resin layers at a rate of five meters per second. In comparison, earlier 3D nanoscale printers could print at rates measured in millimeters per second. That allows for multiple layers – 100 in the case of the F1 model – to be stacked incredibly quickly, though still with accuracy: the variance from the original CAD file is just ±1µm.