The past couple of weeks saw a sort of resurgence in news about 3D printing, and we have yet another advancement to report on, one that could leave people quite surprised.Nanoscribe has successfully printed the Hellcat spaceship from the classic 90s video game Wing Commander.
It is, of course, just a replica, and some may say that the level of detail is lacking, but that is where the matter of scale comes in.
The model in the photo up on the left, and in the video embedded below, is only 125 micrometers long, 81 micrometers wide, and 26.8 micrometers tall. In layman terms, that is about as wide as a single human hair.
Anyone skeptical about the ability of 3D printing technology to produce truly detailed works should have their fears erased.
Nanoscribe is a German company that has nanophotonics and 3D laser lithography as primary research & development focus.
To make the tiny spaceship replica, it employed a technique known as two-photon polymerization.
The process takes about 50 seconds and is showed from start to finish in the video embedded below.
Short laser pulses activate a photo-sensitive liquid polymer by traveling from the bottom to the top.
Rapidly spinning mirrors are responsible for deflecting the scanning laser beam into said photosensitive liquid polymer.
Nanoscribe's printer can be used for other things as well, naturally. Examples of small items are biological scaffolds and ultralight metamaterials.
Obviously, the spaceship cannot fly in the strictest sense, though we are quite certain it will take its time falling to the ground, being so small and, by extension, light.
The printer used to construct the ship is called Photonic Professional GT and has a product page here. It has a “user-friendly software package” with easy CAD import via DXF, STL file format.