I am not talking about the cheap $500 material jetting/extrusion based 3D Printer nor the $5,000 Vat Photopolymerzation technique based steoreolithagraphy (http://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/). Here I am talking about the $500K 3D laser direct laser writing machine that is wide used for micro-structure fabrication. In this technology, fs pulsed laser is tightly focus on the photosensitive resin and the tiny exposed area undergo es two photons polymerization (TPP) and by moving this focused spot, one can create 3D structures in the submicron size. I was lucky enough to involve several projects that fabricate structures using the Nanoscribe machine.
Now back to the topic- what can you do with such a sophisticate machine ?
1. Rapid prototyping- in the micron scale. Previously, such a system has been used only in research laboratories since the process is quite time consuming. 100mm2 structure would normally take several days. The latest model utilizes high speed galvo mirrors and increases the speed by at least ten folds.
2. 3D Photonic Structures
3. Micromachine (Magnetic Sperm)
A research group at ETH Zurich successfully fabricated sperm shaped microrobots and control them using magnetic field.
4. Photonics Phase arrays / Optical filter
Researches at TU Hamburg has demonstrated that it is possible to create diffractive optics element using 3D printing technique. The waveguide based phase arrays allow user to encode their message into the structure and projected it later using the appropriate laser. The potential application is the anti-counterfeiting.
5. Mechanical structures with nano/micro- lattices.
Several groups are currently investigating how the material + structures (lattice) influence the mechanical properties of the hierarchical structure.
6. Medical applications