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New Technique Prints Complex Parts in Minutes

Multi-photon 3D printing has revolutionized miniature fabrication, but speed and material limitations have held it back. Now, scientists have achieved a breakthrough, boosting print speed by tenfold while preserving exquisite detail.

New Technique Prints Complex Parts in Minutes
A multi-photon (7 × 7)-focus 3D laser printer based on a 3D-printed diffractive optical element and a 3D-laser printing. Image Credit: Light: Advanced Manufacturing

This leap forward, detailed in a recent study, utilizes multiple focused laser beams instead of just one, significantly increasing the rate at which tiny building blocks–voxels–are created. Imagine crafting millions of intricate micro-components in mere minutes, paving the way for advancements in personalized medicine and microtechnology like miniature drug-delivery drones.

Using specially designed optical components, the researchers arranged these laser beams strategically to guarantee the best possible focus and power delivery. Their high-precision system allows for handling a wider range of materials and faster printing, which opens up possibilities for a variety of applications.

The study's two striking examples, published in Light: Advanced Manufacturing, demonstrated its potency. First, millions of specially created microparticles were printed, opening the door to innovative drug delivery methods and personalized medicine. Second, the researchers revealed a massive, intricate metamaterial that broke the microprinting record with over 1.7 trillion voxels.

This development goes beyond simplicity and speed. It exceeds the limits of accessibility and affordability. This high-tech system's essential optical components were printed using a laser printer available for purchase, illustrating the technology's potential for democratization and wider adoption.

The future is vividly depicted in this research. This multi-beam laser printing revolution can print revolutionary materials, complex micromachines, and customized medical implants with ease. By pushing the boundaries of speed and precision, researchers are laying the groundwork for a future where microprinting shapes the world—one tiny, intricately crafted voxel at a time.

Journal Reference:

Kiefer, P., et al. (2024) A multi-photon (7 × 7)-focus 3D laser printer based on a 3D-printed diffractive optical element and a 3D-printed multi-lens array. Light: Advanced Manufacturing.


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