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.

In October 2020, researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands announced that they had 3D printed a 30 micrometre-long model boat, which science and technology news website New Atlas claimed made it probably the smallest boat in the world. (Thirty micrometres is circa a third of the thickness of a human hair.) Created as part of an experiment into 3D printed complexly shaped synthetic microswimmers, it was made via a process called two-photon polymerisation, in which a laser carves out the object from a special material designed to react to the light. (Synthetic microswimmers are microscopic objects the propel themselves through fluids via chemical reactions. Most similar research has normally been done with microswimmers that are spherically shaped.) Their work was published in the journal Soft Matter.

Theoretically, the boat could move if it were coated in platinum and placed in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, although the point of 3D printing it was more to see if the laser could create such a detailed microscopic object. The team hopes that their work will enable synthetic microswimmers used in therapeutic diagnostics and drug delivery to be better designed.

The concept of 3D printed synthetic microswimmers traces back at least as far as August 2015. Here, nanoengineers at the University Of California, San Diego 3D printed so-called “microfish,” which could similarly propel themselves via chemical reactions, be steered via magnetism, and could sense and remove toxins. Their work was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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 “Karl Brullov 16” is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.