3D printing has proven useful in so many industries that it is no longer necessary to show off, but some people simply cannot help themselves. A typical example: This millimeter-sized reproduction of Michelangelo's famous “David”, which was printed with copper using a newly developed technique.
The aptly named “Tiny David” comes from Exaddon, a spin-off company from the Swiss Research University ETH Zurich, Cytosurge. It is only a fraction of a millimeter wide and weighs two micrograms.
It was created with the 3D printer "CERES" from Exaddon, which records a stream of ionized liquid copper at a speed of only femtoliters per second and forms a rigid structure with features of only one micrometer in diameter. Printing the Tiny David took about 12 hours, although something that is a little simpler in structure could probably be done much faster.
As it is, the level of detail is pretty amazing. While you obviously can't replicate every nuance of Michelangelo's masterpiece, even small textures like hair and muscle tone are reproduced quite well. No post-processing or support struts required.
Of course, with advanced lithography techniques, we can create much smaller structures in the nanometer range, but this is a complex, sensitive process that must be carefully worked out by experts. This printer can spit out any 3D model in a few hours and at room temperature.
However, the researchers point out that some work is required.
"It's more than a copy and a scaled-down model of Michelangelo's David," said Exaddon's Giorgio Ercolano in a corporate blog post. “Our deep understanding of the printing process has led to a new method of processing the 3D computer model of the statue and then converting it into machine code. This object was cut from an open source CAD file and then sent directly to the printer. This slicing method opens up a completely new way of printing designs with the additive CERES micromachining system. "
But it doesn't get much smaller – Micro-David looks like it is made out of Play Doh snakes. That's okay, they'll do it someday.
The team published the details of its newly developed technique (it was developed a few years ago, but is now much better) in the Micromachines magazine.