Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On August 25th 2015, nanoengineers at the University Of California, San Diego (UCSD) unveiled their 3D printed so-called “microfish,” which could be controlled via chemical reactions and steered via magnetism when in a special solution containing hydrogen peroxide. Their work was published in the journal Advanced Materials. When platinum nanoparticles were incorporated into the microfishes’ tails, they reacted with the hydrogen peroxide to propel the microfish forward. Similarly, magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles incorporated into the microfishes’ heads enabled them to be steered with magnets.

As part of their work, the researchers incorporated nanoparticles of polydiacetylene (PDA) into the microfishes’ bodies, a chemical that captures harmful pore-forming toxins like those found in bee venom. It was found that what UCSD referred to as “the powerful swimming of the microfish in solution” significantly improved their ability to clean up toxins. The PDA nanoparticles became fluorescent and emitted red light upon binding with the toxin molecules, allowing the team to monitor the microfishes’ detoxification ability via the intensity of their red glow.

The microfish were made via a method that took inspiration from a 3D printing technology called microscale continuous optical printing (μCOP), which was developed in the laboratory of one of the lead researchers. USCD proclaimed that this enabled the researchers to 3D print an array of hundreds of microfish in a matter of seconds, with each one measuring 120μm in length and 30μm in thickness. The μCOP technology uses a so-called “digital micromirror array device (DMD) chip” that projects a controlled pattern of ultraviolet light onto a photosensitive material that solidifies upon illumination. This enables sets of functional nanoparticles to be incorporated into specific parts of the microfishes’ bodies.

USCD proclaims that μCOP does not require the use of any harsh chemicals, and would allow the researchers to easily experiment with different designs of 3D printable microfish, such as shark and manta ray shapes. The researchers hope that their microfish would inspire a new generation of so-called “smart microrobots” that could sense and remove toxins, and could engage in directed drug delivery. (Directed drug delivery refers to delivering drugs to the patient such that they target specific parts of the body.)

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “Striped bass FWS 1” is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. For more information, see the Fish and Wildlife Service copyright policy.