Dec 19, 2018 | By Cameron

Switzerland-based micrometer 3D printing company Cytosurge has 3D printed copper “impossble objects” the size of red blood cells. Impossible objects are a class of shapes that appear like different shapes when viewed from different angles. They were discovered by Japanese mathematician Kokichi Sugihara, who has won the first prize of the Best Illusion of the Year Contest three times.

In a fun way of showing off their FluidFM µ3Dprinter, Cytosurge produced one of Sugihara’s famous designs in three scales. The largest model has pillars with a diameter of 100 microns, about the same as the diameter of a human hair. The next size down is 30 microns, followed by the cell-sized version that’s a mere 10 microns. Only with a powerful electron microscope are these models visible as even the largest would look like a speck of dust to the naked eye.

And these parts aren’t made of photocurable resin like most micro prints. They’re copper. 3D printing at such a small scale is tricky because this is where chemistry and physics collide. The FluidFM µ3Dprinter uses a pipette with a 300nm-wide nozzle; the nozzle is placed within one micron of a conductive surface and a metal ion-containing liquid is dispensed. A negative current is applied to the surface, which accumulates copper ions to solid atoms. After the micron gap between the surface and the nozzle is filled with solid copper atoms, the nozzle moves to the next position. Eventually, the tiniest impossible object is formed.

Cytosurge distributes advanced nanotechnology, so this marketing demonstration is a walk in the park for them. Still, it’s fun to look at, even if you do need a microscope.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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