Commuting Dust Mites

This is a 285 micrometer racecar, printed at the Vienna University of Technology. Credit: Vienna University of Technology

Imagine a car small enough for a dust mite. Crazy, right?

Well, with new printing technology, this just might be possible.

The 3D printer uses a liquid resin, which is hardened at precisely the correct spots by a focused laser beam. The focal point of the laser beam is guided through the resin by movable mirrors and leaves behind a polymerized line of solid polymer, just a few hundred nanometers wide. This high resolution enables the creation of intricately structured sculptures as tiny as a grain of sand. "Until now, this technique used to be quite slow", says Professor Jürgen Stampfl from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at the TU Vienna. "The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second - our device can do five meters in one second." In two-photon lithography, this is a world record.

Admittedly, this "racecar" is just a model, but it is sufficiently small, at 285 micrometers in length, to accommodate that dust mite:


I know, the world does not need commuting dust mites, but I love the possibilities of such technology!

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