Mar. 6, 2015 | By Simon

Although 3D printers such as the MakerBot Replicator, UP and Form 1+ may grab a lot of attention in the media, the range of 3d printers for other non-traditional methods of manufacturing are still quite prevalent in niche industries.  Of course, bioprinting comes to mind as well as metal-based additive manufacturing used for the aerospace industry.  But what about 3D printing nano structures?

TETRA, a Germany-based company that consists of over 40 highly-skilled engineers, develops, manufactures and distributes products ranging from sensors to robotics and automation.  Although the company makes different types of products for different industries, one of their specialties is in producing highly-specialized test and production systems for micro and nano technologies.  Among others who use TETRA products include those in the life sciences sector, the electronics industry and material research.  

Among other products the company has been working on as of late, they recently announced that their TETRA GmbH nano 3D printer - which features Two-Photon-Polymerization - has earned the title as a world record holder for the smallest nano printing technology. The Two-Photon-Polymerization process is a lithographic process in which photosensitive liquid materials are cross-linked by an ultra-short pulse laser.  When used, the material cures in the focal area of the laser beam similar to existing SLS and SLA 3D printers - however at a much, much smaller scale.  

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"The dimension of the printing area can be controlled solely by laser power and the focus is just a few microns in diameter." Norman Petzold of Tetra told "The diameter of the polymerized region is capable of measuring less than 100 nm, which ultimately results in very high resolutions of the nano printed structures." The printer was designed to be used in industrial settings and is capable of small batch production.

In total, the 3D printer is capable of producing nano structures with dimensions of up to 30 x 30 x 30 mm³ with a resolution of 400 nm.  This is a tenth of the size of current nano 3D printers and is what helped TETRA push the 3D printer into earning a world record.

REM-picture of a scaffold for cell cultivation built of "Schwarz-P"-cells

Scaffold of "Schwarz-P"-cells for tissue engineering (height 5 mm)

Monolithic written nano structure (height 22 mm, diameter 16 mm)

Nano structure for cultivating bone cells

Currently, TETRA’s nano structures are already being used in tissue engineering and cell cultivating due to the high resolution of the scaffolds for cell growth - which can also be optimized for different cell types. Additionally, the nano structure designs can be adjusted to print at specific pore sizes, wall densities and material composition. Other applications include photonics, microsystem technologies and sensors.      

At the moment, TETRA is currently only selling the nano structures themselves and the price is contingent on parameters such as size, material, shape and number of parts, Petzold told us. However by the end of 2015, the company is planning to launch the nano 3D printer as its own standalone product.  



Posted in 3D Printers


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alvaro wrote at 3/8/2015 10:03:12 PM:

Another amazing tool to improve regeneratives therapies !

polywater wrote at 3/8/2015 2:46:44 AM:

Unrelated video?

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