Nov 28, 2017 | By Tess

While it may seem like the fidget spinner fad has run its course, we just came across a new 3D printed one that may change some minds. Researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)—not your typical toy factory—have created what is most certainly the world’s smallest fidget spinner using additive manufacturing technology.

World's smallest fidget spinner, as seen through a microscope

The tiny spinning device, which measures only 100 microns in width (about the width of a human hair), was made by ORNL’s Center for Nanosphase Materials Sciences (CNMS) using a Nanoscribe 3D printer.

Typically, the Nanoscribe machine is used to create microfluidic, micromechanical, and other micro-scale scientific devices, but for the purpose of engaging young people with the lab’s work, ORNL researchers decided to create everyone’s favorite handheld toy.

Imaging of the tiny fidget spinner being built up layer-by-layer

"We felt like it would be an interesting demonstration for younger people who may not know that the federal government maintains these user facilities around the country, which anybody can use as long as they submit a successful proposal," explained ORNL scientist Adam Rondinone.

The Nanoscribe machine used to create the tiny fidget spinner, developed by a German company by the same name, uses a tiny and extremely focused laser to harden layers of a liquid droplet in a particular shape (in this case the fidget spinner). Like a regular 3D printer, the laser gradually builds up the object layer by layer.

And though it is on a micro-scale, the technology is able to produce some extremely precise structures, such as the world’s smallest 3D printed ultra-strength lattice structure. Amazingly—and as is the case with the fidget spinner—the micro-scale 3D printing technology can produce parts with moving components.

If you hadn’t guessed, this means that the microscopic 3D printed fidget spinner actually works. Naturally, it cannot be operated by human hands, but as the scientists demonstrate, the tiny toy begins to spin when compressed air is applied to it.

Micro-scale 3D printed fidget spinner in action, as seen through a microsope

Unsurprisingly, the world’s largest fidget spinner was also made using additive manufacturing technologies, though to a different end.

That is,by 3D printing a micro-scale fidget spinner, the CNMS scientists are hoping to showcase what their facility is equipped with and what it has the potential to produce. To put the lab’s work into perspective, last year over 650 researchers used CNMS facilities and resources to advance projects in the fields of nanomaterial synthesis, nanofabrication, imaging, microscopy and characterization, modeling and simulation, and more.

The world's largest fidget spinner was also 3D printed

“Our job is to offer cutting-edge experiments, instrumentation and expertise, to help other scientists to achieve their goals,” Rondinone commented, adding that the 3D printed fidget spinner is “a compelling way for [CNMS] to reach out to the next generation of scientists.”

The team behind the smallest 3D printed fidget spinner in the world will be showcasing the innovative toy through an interactive exhibition during the ORNL Traveling Science Fair.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Tony Fisher wrote at 11/30/2017 1:28:12 PM:

Hilarious that you think that other one is the largest. Why not actually research it?? Mine is far bigger and possibly the largest-

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