Is the current measurement logic of microns in 3D printing going to be pushed aside by sperm-size? Well not really, since one spermatozoon measures aprox 5 microns by 3 microns (µm) ignoring the tail length. But seriously folks, we are talking about a current “standard” of 50 – 100 microns of layer height (talking about FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling) in the average consumer-level 3D printer at the moment. Yes, yes I know many brands talk about, or market their printers being able to achieve as low as 20 microns of layer height, but that’s a debate for another topic and another time.
What I am trying to emphasisse with this article is, that an artist named Jonty Hurwitz 3D printed a whole object/model at that size – the size of 1 layer. Aprox. dimensions he says are 80 x 100 x 20 microns. That’s mind boggling to say the least. The stills of his art speak for themselves. Just look at the freaking comparison between the eye of a needle, a hair strand and what seems to be a head of an ant. To start grasping the extremely small proportions of the printed objects/models.
Using a technique called Multi-Photon Lithography a.k.a Direct Laser Writing, where by illuminating negative-tone or positive-tone light-sensitive material (photoresists) via light of a well-defined wavelength, we “print” models/objects of extremely small proportions. More on this technique can be read elsewhere, the point of this article is not to get all technical…
“Ultimately these works are created using the physical phenomenon of two photon absorption. Art, literally created with Quantum Physics. If you illuminate a light-sensitive polymer with Ultra Violet wavelengths, it solidifies wherever it was irradiated in a kind of crude lump. Some of you may have experienced a polymer like this first hand at the dentist when your filling is glued in with a UV light. If however you use longer wavelength intense light, and focus it tightly through a microscope, something wonderful happens: at the focus point, the polymer absorbs TWO PHOTONS and responds as if it had been illuminated by UV light, namely it will solidify. This two photon absorption occurs only at the tiny focal point – basically a tiny 3D pixel (called a Voxel). The sculpture is then moved along fractionally by a computer controlled process and the next pixel is created. Slowly, over hours and hours the entire sculpture is assembled pixel by pixel and layer by layer.”
Amazing use of this technique and kudos for the amazing stills of the artwork. I tip my hat to You Sir Hurwitz.