3D printing technology has taken over the world by a storm. This technology has proven its worth is multiple industries. For example, there are talks about installing a 3D machine in space to build parts of a satellite to save on costs.
Speaking of new developments in 3D printing, a new technique has been introduced, which is used to print a millimeter-tall rendition of Michelangelo’s famous “David” with copper.
What Is Tiny David?
Aptly named “Tiny David,” this rendition was created by Exaddon, which is a spin-off company from another spin-off company called Cytosurge, spun off from Swiss research university ETH Zurich.
“Tiny David” is only a fraction of a millimeter wide and weighs two micrograms. It has been created by Exaddon’s “CERES” 3D printer. In this printer, a stream of ionized liquid copper is laid down at a rate as little as femtoliters per second. This results in a rigid structure being formed with features that are as small as a micrometer across.
“Tiny David” took approximately 12 hours to print. However, using the same technology, something smaller can be printed much faster. While you can’t reproduce every nuance of a Michelangelo masterpiece, the level of detailing in Tiny David is quite exceptional. Even small textures like the hair and muscle tone have been recreated well. Moreover, this rendition doesn’t require any finishing buff or support struts either.
While these types of smaller structures can be created at a nanometer level using advanced lithography techniques. However, the entire process using that technique is complex and extremely sensitive. Only an expert in the field can implement it. On the other hand, this printer can take an arbitrary 3D model and create it within a few hours.
The Human Touch
While the machine does most of the work, there is some manual work involved. According to Exaddon’s Giorgio Ercolano, “Our deep understanding of the printing process has led to a new way of processing the 3D computer model of the statue and then converting it into machine code. This object has been sliced from an open-source CAD file and afterward was sent directly to the printer. This slicing method enables an entirely new way to print designs with the CERES additive micromanufacturing system.
The team published the details of their newly refined technique in the journal Micromachines.
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