Those telltale layered stripe marks all over a 3D-printed object might soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new high-res printing technique that’s actually capable of creating 3D objects smaller than a red blood cell.
A team of researchers from South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, led by professor Park Jang-ung, have developed a new kind of 3D printing technique that works not unlike the colour printer you have at home. Except that this electrohydrodynamic inkjet uses special inks that can be layered to form microscopic 3D shapes like arched bridges, zig-zag structures, and pillars.
The new 3D printing technique can actually create patterns as small as 0.001-millimetres in size. For comparison, a red blood cell measures in at 0.006 to 0.008-millimetres, so it’s actually capable of creating shapes too small for the naked human eye to see.
An obvious application of the new technology would be to further refine the 3D printing process to the point where objects have no visible layering or textures. They’d be—at least in theory—smooth to the touch as soon as they came off the printer. But a more immediate application involves using these new techniques for 3D printing electronic components and circuit boards, making it easier and faster to create, refine, and perfect prototypes.