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ETH Zurich and Cytosurge develop FluidFM: micro 3D printing process for tiny, complex metal objects – 3ders.org (blog)

by • January 19, 2016 • 8s Comments

Jan 20, 2016 | By Andre

3D Printing on a microscopic level has always offered one-of-a-kind challenges when compared with the 3D printing methods most of us are utilized to. Scientists at ETH Zurich have been working on a system to 3D print on such a tiny scale via a technique they call FluidFM since 2009. From that point forward, a spin-off company called Cytosurge has been turn it intod to expand on the system so to additional the manufacture of tiny, hard objects consume with overhanging showcases without the use of stencil support structures.

The hardities synonymous with working on such a microscopic scale are vast. For example, the aperature of the turn it intod “print-head” measures in at 300 nanometres (roughly 500 times additional compact than the diameter of a human hair). A swift run-down on 3D printing at such a scale begins with a tiny baseplate and a micro-pipette that in turn provides a channel for a slow and constant flow of a copper sulphate solution. Whilst this is bringing place, the pipette is moved exactly into position preceding an electrode is passed through, cavia the copper sulphate to form solid copper onto a previously deposit preceding forming into shape one layer at a time.

A problem up until now has always been printing pretty hard shapes on this level. Just as most are acquainted with in the additional common FDM type 3D printing methods, a support structure is required to support with leading overhangs in any turn it into. These overhangs can be supported by support structures that are removed after printing concludes. Unfortunately, this cleanup system slows down the manufacture of parts due to necessary post-production and finishing.
In existing 3D microprinting systemes, these supports have to be manufactured precedinghand via a placeholder that sits under the overhang that is to be printed. With the newly invented technique found by Cytosurge, the forces acting on the tip of the pipette can be measured via the deflection of the leaf spring on that the micropipette is mounted. These measurements can and so be utilized as signal feedback and as project manufacturer Luca Hirt suggests, “unlike other 3D printing systems, ours can detect that areas of the object have may already been printed. This can manufacture it simpler to additional automatize
and scale the printing system.”
(example of nested spirals (microscope image; original width approx. 50 micrometres)
From a materials point of view they already focus on 3D printing with copper sulphate. But, FluidFM can be applied to other metals and actually probably via polymers and composite materials.
The team at Cytosurge AG are now hoping their newly turn it intod 3D printing method can be taken up for different types of applications in multiple markets. Dr. Pascal Behr, CEO of Cytosurge sees specific applications in watch and semiconductor industries as well as in the medical device sector. “It offers our customers informative growth future and possibilities to increase efficiency.”
The team has since submitted a patent application for their new micro-printing innovation and sees big market future with what they’ve turn it intod. “We are convinced of the thought of via FluidFM in 3D microprinting. Now, the task is to optimize this application in collaboration with interested researchers at universities and in industry.”
It in addition seems the spin-off company yet holds a sturdy relationship with founding partner ETH Zurich, by suggesting “It is a case of mutual donate and take, of that both sides profit.” Cytosurge provides ETH with its latest equipment, that in turn are utilized by the ETH scientists to additional turn it into and improve the innovation.
Pondering 3D printing on such a tiny scale can be mind boggling to comprehend at times, but it is not a surprise that such research is being done to support in the commercial and medical fields that exist with the necessity to fabricate on such a tiny scale.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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