Superfast 3D Printing Yields Tiny Racecar, Church, Bridges

By Veronique Greenwood | March 14, 2012 11:23 am


This tiny speed racer measures 285 microns long and was 3D printed using a new technique developed at Vienna University of Technology. The printer pumps out thin lines and layers of resin, which harden when hit with a pair of photons from a laser, a kind of 3D printing called two-photon lithography. By adjusting the way the laser is produced and tweaking the formula for the resin, the team managed to make the hardening process much faster, so that what used to take hours can now take seconds. The printer can now shoot out five-meters’ worth of resin—in an extremely fine line, of course—per second. Conventional 3D printers of this sort, on the other hand, produce in millimeters per second. You can watch the racecar being made here:

To strut their printer’s stuff, the team also made miniature models of a church in Vienna and a local bridge:




Images courtesy of Klaus Cicha / Vienna University of Technology

  • Frank Burgum

    Excuse me for pointing this out, but I think from the electron-microscope scale the racing car is more likely to be 285 micrometres long, not 285 nm! Still very small, but visible to the naked eye and a little larger than a human hair (180 microns).

    • Veronique Greenwood

      Yes, you’re right! Fixed.

  • Mephane

    What I am really wondering is what kind of original data they have for those models, particularly whether these are voxel or vertex based, because in case of 3D printing, I think voxel data makes so much more sense than vertices, as they can be much more directly reproduced in physical form, and there can be a direct connection between the resolution of the voxel data and that of the printed object.


    That racecar ain’t goin’ nowhere — its tires are flat! Still, it’s quite an engineering feat.

  • tOM Trottier

    How fast can that racecar travel? And how do you produce axles and bearings?


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