Researchers in Zurich copied Michelangelo’s David into a metal miniature model, an achievement that is a good indication of the potential of the Zurich Polytechnic University (ETH) to develop special 3D printing methods. Michelangelo’s David – Almost every child recognizes the world-famous statue. The difference is that this David is only 1 mm tall with the base, and it is made of pure copper rather than marble.
3D-printed miniature David from a different perspective
The statue was created using 3D printing by a team led by Giorgio Ercolano and ETH professor Thomas Zambeli from Exaddon, a company separated by ETH. Zambeli and his team developed 3D technology a few years ago. Scientists can use it to make nano and micron-scale metal structures.
The core component of the process is the microstraw coupled to the cantilever, which effectively controls the contact force. With this component, researchers can build tiny metal structures with high precision. Exaddon uses this micro-metal printing method and improves it in particular in terms of speed.
1. Print complex geometry
Previously, researchers mostly created tiny columns or coils. “However, this process helps us print structures or geometry of all kinds of complexity, ” says Elcorano. The sculpture is made in one go, with no stents or templates, and no need for any burning or tempering. ElCorano and colleagues published their findings in the journal Micromachines. In addition, data from David’s sculpture is available free of charge on the Internet.
It can’t be any smaller! This is a 0.1mm statue of David.
2. Smaller sizes are defined by the solution
El Corano printed David in two sizes: a sculpture that was 1 mm tall and a sculpture ten times smaller. “The small version is only as tall as the base of the larger version, ” he said. “However, for such a small structure, the current solution is limited. Printed metal micro-objects typically start at 1 micron (?m) and range in size from 100?m to 1 mm for more complex objects. In terms of time, it takes 30 hours for the device to create a largeversion of David, while a smaller version takes 20 minutes. In theory, the system could print objects with a maximum size of 5 mm, but it would also be enough to print hundreds or even thousands of tiny objects, which is in principle feasible.
Zambeli was very pleased with the result. “I’m glad that a technology in our lab has come into practice, and that this 3D printing technology has been adopted and improved, which shows that it really works. “The printing process is of the greatest interest to the electronics industry. With this printing technology, manufacturers can connect computer chips together or fix microelectronicsystems precisely.