Researchers in Zurich copied Michelangelo's David into a miniature metal model, an achievement that shows the potential of Zurich University of Technology (ETH) to develop special 3D printing methods. Michelangelo's David-Almost every child can recognize this world famous statue. The difference is that this David, together with the base, is only 1 mm high, and it is made of pure copper instead of marble. The statue is shared by Giorgio Ercolano from Exaddon (the company separated by ETH) and a team led by ETH Professor Thomaso Zambeli (Biosensors and Bioelectronics Laboratory) using 3D Print creation. Zambali and his team developed 3D technology a few years ago. Scientists can use it to make nano- and micro-scale metal structures.
The core component of this process is a micropipette coupled to a cantilever, which effectively controls the contact force. With this component, researchers can build tiny metal structures layer by layer with high accuracy. Exaddon took this miniature metal printing method and improved it specifically for speed.
1 print complex geometry
Previously, researchers mostly created tiny pillars or coils. "However, this process helps us print structures or geometries of varying complexity," Ercolano said. The sculpture was built in one go, without a stand or template, and without any firing or tempering. Ercolano and colleagues published their findings in the journal Micromachines. In addition, data on David's sculptures are freely available on the Internet.
2 Smaller size limited by solution
Ercolano printed two sizes for David: one is a 1mm tall sculpture and the other is a sculpture ten times smaller. He said: "The small version is only as tall as the large version." However, for such a small structure, the current solution has certain limitations. Printed metal miniature objects usually start at 1 micron (? M), and for more complex objects, sizes range from 100? M to 1 mm. In terms of time, the device takes 30 hours to create the larger version of David, while the smaller version takes only 20 minutes. In theory, the system can print objects with a maximum size of 5 mm, but it is also sufficient to print hundreds or even thousands of tiny objects, which is in principle feasible.
Zambali was very happy with the results. "We are glad that a technology in our laboratory has been put into practical use. This 3D printing technology can be adopted and improved, which shows that it really works." The printing process is of most interest to the electronics industry. With this printing technology, manufacturers can connect computer chips together or repair microelectronic systems with precision.