Feb.9, 2013

The video below shows a real-time recording of the 3D micro printing process by two-photon polymerization. Overall printing time was less than 50 seconds for the ship with dimensions 125µm x 81µm x 26.8µm (l x w x h). The craft is about the length of thickness of a human hair.

The craft is printed on a new generation of Nanoscribe´s 3D laser lithography systems, Photonic Professional GT. This 3D printer is able to make complex shaped polymer structures with finest feature sizes in the sub-micrometer range. The technique of 3D laser lithography, or direct laser writing as it is named, is based on multi-photon polymerization, a non-linear optical effect. An ultra-short pulsed laser activates the photoresist and causes a chemical and / or physical change of the photoresist within a small volume pixel ("voxel") that can be scaled by the laser power. This voxel typically is of ellipsoidal shape and is the basic building block for the fabrication of 3D structures. By moving the sample relative to the fixed focal position, arbitrary paths can be written into the material. This process is just like using a nanometer-sized pen to draw in three dimensions.

Researchers start with the CAD model of the ship, based a Hellcat spaceship from Wing Commander Saga and then use Photonic Professional GT 3D printer to print a polymer model on the microscale. Driven by an embedded ultra-high precision galvo technology, the writing process can be done in shortest time. The whole system is fully automated. Structures can either be designed in 3D printer compatible CAD software programs or directly implemented in Nanoscribe´s GWL scripting language.

Key features:

  • ultra-precise fabrication with feature sizes ranging down to 100 nm
  • Fast and accurate by galvo and piezo technology
  • Writing area up to the centimeter range
  • Easy fabrication of 3D micro- and nanostructures
  • Easy CAD import via DXF, STL file format

This system can be used in the research areas such as photonics, micro optics, life sciences, microfluidics, nano- and microtechnology.

(Images credit: Nanoscribe)


Press Release:

At the Photonics West, the leading international fair for photonics taking place in San Francisco (USA) this week, Nanoscribe GmbH, a spin-off of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), presents the world's fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures. With this printer, smallest three-dimensional objects, often smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be manufactured with minimum time consumption and maximum resolution. The printer is based on a novel laser lithography method. Nanoscribe systems are used to print polymer waveguides reaching data transfer rates of more than 5 terabits per second.

Biosciences produce tailored scaffolds for cell growth studies among others. In materials research, functional materials of enhanced performance are developed for lightweight construction to reduce the consumption of resources. Among the customers are universities and research institutions as well as industrial companies.

Increased Speed: Hours Turn into Minutes

By means of the new laser lithography method, printing speed is increased by factor of about 100. This increase in speed results from the use of a galvo mirror system, a technology that is also applied in laser show devices or scanning units of CD and DVD drives. Reflecting a laser beam off the rotating galvo mirrors facilitates rapid and precise laser focus positioning. "We are revolutionizing 3D printing on the micrometer scale. Precision and speed are achieved by the industrially established galvo technology. Our product benefits from more than one decade of experience in photonics, the key technology of the 21st century," says Martin Hermatschweiler, the managing director of Nanoscribe GmbH.

Mechanism: Two-photon Polymerization

The direct laser writing technique underlying the 3D printing method is based on two-photon polymerization. Just as paper ignites when exposed to sunlight focused through a magnifying glass, ultra-short laser pulses polymerize photosensitive materials in the laser focus. Depending on the photosensitive material chosen, the exposed or unexposed volume only is dissolved. After a developer bath, these written areas remain as self-supporting micro- and nanostructures.

Removing Barriers

By means of the galvo technology, three-dimensional micro- and nanostructures can be printed rapidly and, hence, on large areas in principle. At highest resolution, however, the scanning field is limited physically to a few 100 µm due to the optical properties of the focusing objective. Just as floor tiles must be joined precisely, the respective scanning fields have to be connected seamlessly and accurately. By the so-called stitching, areas can be extended nearly arbitrarily.






Posted in 3D Printers


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