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Nanoscale 3D Printer Now Commercially Available 127

kkleiner writes "Now the field of 3D printing has advanced so far that a company called Nanoscribe is offering one of the first commercially available 3D printers for the nanoscale. Nanoscribe's machine can produce tiny 3D printed objects that are only the width of a single human hair. Amazingly this includes 3D printed objects such as spaceships, micro needles, or even the empire state building."
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Nanoscale 3D Printer Now Commercially Available

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  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:04PM (#43199729) Homepage


    • by Anonymous Coward

      typical bs clickbait headline.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThePeices ( 635180 )

      so 30nm resolution is not nano scale enough for you?

      • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:59PM (#43199999) Homepage

        > so 30nm resolution is not nano scale enough for you?

        That's 3% at one micron: barely adequate for devices with minimum dimensions of one micron and up. For nanoscale devices you need one nanometer or better.

        Look at the examples. They're all dimensioned in the tens to hundreds of microns.

        • by Vitriol+Angst ( 458300 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @11:26PM (#43200523)

          I get your point, but I think you and Slashdot have to come to terms with the fact that "nano" is now buzz-word compliant. It's like how "Sanitation Engineer" started making everyone an engineer.

          "Nano" actually now means "small" to the press. I'm sorry it isn't technically correct, but you are going to have to get used to it.

          Now, I've got some bad news to tell you about "quantum" as well...

          • by hairyfish ( 1653411 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:24AM (#43200711)

            "Nano" actually now means "small" to the press. I'm sorry it isn't technically correct, but you are going to have to get used to it.

            No we're not. I can accept this interpretation in the local rag, but Slashdot's target audience is smart people (apparently). We should be sticking to technically accurate terminology at all times.

            • agreed, we, the populous of slashdot are indeed responsible to make these remarks and be bothered by the incorrect usage of scientific words. Why? because we f'n care: that is why. That is what makes us different than the folks that would be bored reading a site where the nitty gritty is debated to exhaustion. lets not take our charge lightly nor give up in the face of shit media outlets.

              i'm being very serious here
        • by Idou ( 572394 )
          Yes, technically it is only micro . . . until you use it to print a printer, which can print true nano.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "Nano" is considered sub 100 nm in any one spatial dimension, as defined by government funding agencies.

          If that happens to mean anything to you :D

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          For nanoscale devices you need one nanometer or better.

          Pardon my ignorance but, according to whom? My attempt to seek clarification on this wasn't very fruitful and the definitions that I found insisted that it only had to relate to scale of nanometers which this device purports to do. Is it that you want it to mean something else or am I missing something?

          • by dissy ( 172727 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @04:52AM (#43201357)

            It's a bit of a long read, but (IMHO) one of the best sources on the matter is Engines of Creation [] by Eric Drexler.

            He describes the very concept of nanotechnology, defines it as well as much philosophy around it, with plenty of examples of thing that can be done once manufacturing on this scale is achieved.

            Such machines do technically already exist, such as the ribosome. Once a similar machine is created that is under complete human control pragmatically, it will be a world altering event.

            If you think of the process of a cell performing its work, dividing, assembling its programmed structure, and eventually creating something on the macro scale like a whale or elephant - then you are thinking on the right scale.

            The 3D printer referenced in the article is not yet able to produce structures at this scale, let alone functional machines at this scale.
            At best it might be one step on the path towards true nanotechnology, as smaller tools build smaller tools and so on.

            Some additional material on the subject that found recently was on youtube under productive nanosystems []
            While this is purely an artists rendering, one video I happened upon that really brings home the scale factor is their nano-factory [] video.

            This is what most people are referring to when using the term nanotechnology.

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              Thank you VERY much and, obviously, I haven't read it yet but I'll push my way through it when I'm done going through my daily ritual of reading, posting, and catching up. I appreciate it more than it may seem and your well thought out answer is something I see less frequently around here so my appreciation goes up accordingly. It doesn't really totally answer my question though I guess it does indirectly? So, please correct me if I'm mistaken...

              The dictionary definition of nanoscale means something related

              • by dissy ( 172727 )

                You're quite welcome! This has always been a fascinating subject to me, both in terms of the science around it as well as the science fictiony type day dreams it can invoke. (And appologies in advance if this reply turns into a nice long rambling on the subject)
                We are well on our way to this level of technology already, and the future is looking to be too amazing for words.

                The dictionary definition of nanoscale means something related to, or measured in, nanometers which, of course, could include very large objects being measured in nanometers for no other reason other than that's the unit of measurement the person chose. This definition, while fine for a layperson or a generic use dictionary, isn't adequate for academic or professional use.

                Thus, either definitively or colloquially, the term "nanoscale" is more specifically, technologically or professionally, restricted to things measuring 1 nanometer or less?

                Is that correct or correct enough for a laypersons vocabulary?

                I actually wish there was a more definitive answer everyone could agree on to give you.
                Some say 1nm or less, others say measuring in s

        • Nanoscopic Scale (redirected from Nanoscale) []: The nanoscopic scale usually refers to structures with a length scale applicable to nanotechnology, usually cited as 1-100 nanometers.

          Nanotechnology []: A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. (emphasis mine)

          What you're thinking about is probably (also from the Nanot

          • As usual, I didn't read far enough down before posting. Thanks for your concise explanation; it's exactly right. I'd mod you up if I had points.

        • That's what she said.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward


      "nice tits"???

    • Many technologies in physics are classified as nanoscale, such as nanoparticles 100 nm. I've heard it also defined for 300 nm. Nanoscale simply means in the nm-range.

      To get 1 nm resolution, you would need a "pico-scale" device.

  • So with this printer will I be able to create nano-spy-bugs?

    • Well, we've got a long way to go between printed nanoscale tchotchke and something functional, but yeah, it does seem like a big step in that direction. I've seen some rather sophisticated fully functional planetary gear assemblies and such printed all at once on a makerbot, and while it took a lot of trimming to get it working properly I suspect such a thing would be far easier and cleaner to do in a precision instrument like this, especially since (I believe) the polymerization process used means that the

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:09PM (#43199759)

    Nano Trinkets

    Save space on your shelf for more useless plastic models, combine two buzzwords at once, join the future today with nanomakerbot 2.0!

  • And again. That video is amazing.
    • Yeah, had to watch it twice just for the grin I got from watching it the first time. This is some serious nerdsmanship.

      I'd like to know where one might use a stent 20nm. wide.

  • Since when is the ESB considered "nano-scale"?
    • Ask a Zentraedi.
    • Well, they never specified which unit the nano- was prefixed to.

      A nanoparsec would be about 30,000km, a nanolightyear around 10,000km, and a nano-AU would be around 150m. By any of those, the ESB would be "nano-scale" (or below).

  • Perfect! (Score:2, Funny)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 )

    It's perfect for those moments, when somebody starts complaining about stuff that you may not care about at all, because you can print the world's smallest violin and you can print the worlds smallest hands to play the smallest violin as well!

  • With the mention of the word 'nano', I was hoping for an advance in molecular/atomic printing. I'd love the ability to mass produce objects (even just cubes) of various materials.
    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      With the mention of the word 'nano', I was hoping for an advance in molecular/atomic printing. I'd love the ability to mass produce objects (even just cubes) of various materials.

      Careful with those - De Beers [] might strongly object to mass producing cubic structures from carbon atoms.

      • considering blood wont be shed for them I would say thats a far better idea.

      • Considering how I strongly object to some of their practices, you may rest assured that what I give about it is not even close to 50% of the waste product after metabolizing food.

    • I dare say the value of such objects will sharply decline if their production becomes cheap.

  • by Master Moose ( 1243274 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:58PM (#43199997) Homepage

    Oh we are getting closer to being able to cheaply print vinyl records!

    My deam of custom 45s in a classic home jukebox inches closer and closer.

    • You can already buy a vinyl recorder. Why print something that was designed to be cut?

      • Cost and convenience. The “proper gear” with expensive cutter heads that suffer from limited use wear and tear - for what, to me, would ultimately be a novelty. . .

        The trial and error alone in getting the right "sound" would see many coasters and placemats quickly created.

    • My deam of custom 45s in a classic home jukebox inches closer and closer.

      Mine too - Kimber, S&W, Norinco, Colt Custom Shop... Oh, sorry, wrong 45's...

  • by OhANameWhatName ( 2688401 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @09:02PM (#43200015)
    But I'm certain I'd lose it.
  • by asm2750 ( 1124425 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @09:37PM (#43200179)
    Right now it can take weeks to make complete microchip with the current fabrication methods. The fabrication size of this printer isn't that great however since most of what is seen in the TFA looks to be around 100 nanometers compared to the 28 nanometers a modern fab can make. However, it would be great to have for rapid prototypes of processors or be used to make devices that fabricate well at large sizes like flash memory.

    This printer would work extremely well for MEMS devices since the complex structures such sensors can now just be printed rather than deposited and etched over and over again in a microchip fab.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do you have any idea WHY microchips take so long to build? []

      Even if you can magically make chemicals not react while they patiently wait to be positioned atom by atom, how the hell will you prevent household dust and vibrations from messing up the accuracy? Do we have any idea of what this machine needs as physical support? Like a giant cement floor or vibration-damping structure?

      You got that in your living room?

      • Who said anything about a living room?

      • AC one of my areas of focus in my MSEE degree program was semiconductors and their fabrication. Yes it can take weeks for a microchip to be grown, etched, deposited, cut and packaged (typically around 3 weeks or more depending on how complex the node size and chip is). Also the machines used for exposing the design pattern to the wafer has to be dead on otherwise the chips made on the wafer will not work. A rapid prototyper such as this printer for chips would still need to be in a fab like environment tur
      • Nonsense. E-beam and ion beam lithography are already standard. They're a lot easier to control and use than mask-based lithography and work in a normal lab. They just are no good for mass production, and they are expensive because there isn't a lot of demand for them.

        • Well that and they are serial and thus slow. (Yes I know about the parralell methods for both E-beam and Ion beam [also ion-beam litho, not direct write maybe for making nano-imprint-masks]) So the reason they are expensive (they aren't: E-beam is way cheap for the resolution, its just you'd never want to wait for even a single layer of a real device with E-beam litho on a production scale) is that you need lots of them to get anywhere near the throughput you get with photo-lithography.

          Sure this technique m

          • Well that and they are serial and thus slow.

            No "and". They aren't good for mass production because they are slow; that's pretty much the only disadvantage they have.

            Sure this technique might be a neat way to make nano-imprint masks, but then again 30nm isn't all that sexy.

            The technique hasn't been tuned as much as standard lithography. And you can get smaller features with ion beam lithography already. People may just not be able to make light-based lithography work at smaller feature sizes and we'll be for

            • depends on what you mean by smaller features. With 30keV Ga ions on Si the effective range is on the order of 27nm which basically limits your z resolution to something around 30nm, You can do a bit better with lateral resolution, FEI claims something on the range to sub 10s of nm, but I'm really having difficulty with the choice of the term lithography.

              Lithography usually refers to some sort of masking procedure but the real advantage of ion beam is that you can do deposition and milling. You can do simila

              • Sorry, I went all internet tough guy back there...
                I should clarify what I meant.
                1st: E-beam lithography as I know it; with an E-beam resist is pretty much the creme of the crop if you want ultra high resolution. It is also a very old technique IE they were looking at it to replace photo-lithography as far back as the '80s but there are difficulties with making a bright electron beam to do the lithography in a parallel manner. Therefore its been used serially with a beam rastering the resist to make the desi

                • Large scale E-beam is hard! If we wanted to replace photo-lithography with E-beam lithography we would need much brighter sources and much more sensitive resists.

                  Or we simply need to get the cost down to the point that they become as ubiquitous as printers (and soon 3D printers). With millions of such devices around, it wouldn't matter if it took it a few days to produce a complex chip.

                  • except that E-beam lithography is in effect lithography, the following steps are harder and require lots of infrastructure.
                    Here is a typical process for getting a single layer into a chip.
                    Step 1: Clean the substrate of any organics.
                    Step 2: Apply resist (usually using a spin on process)
                    Step 3: Expose resist (E-beam -- Photolithography it doesn't matter). The hard part here is exposing in the correct places.
                    Step 4: Develop resist, usually wet chemistry which will remove or leave only the areas exposed in the

                    • except that E-beam lithography is in effect lithography,

                      Don't be so hung up on "lithography"; I didn't actually use the term myself. And, in fact, I think large scale, low-cost VLSI manufacturing will likely be based on a combination of self-assembly and AFM technologies, which people already know how to parallelize.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      This thing can only print certain materials so I'm not sure it works for electronics. And the resolution is 30 nm according to the Technology World article. The press release doesn't say anything about the resolution though.

      • 30nm would be awesome for prototypes and low-count manufacture. Hell, 32nm was the limit of photolithography not too many years ago. Not that it'd be as easily done as said, but if you could build 30nm or even 60nm node one-off chips in an industrial design office or university lab that'd be plenty small enough.

    • This printer would work extremely well for MEMS devices since the complex structures such sensors can now just be printed rather than deposited and etched over and over again in a microchip fab.

      I'm not sure how printing MEMs devices serially is going to be faster than parallel mass production on 12" or 18" silicon wafers. Printing them is analogous to laboriously machining a part in a CNC mill compared to stamping in a forge. Photolithography and etching are pretty fast processes. Well, etching can be sl

  • Can I print a chip with this? Chris Gammell will buy one if it can.

  • Board to engineer: We're excited to see the first demonstration of our new 3D printer! Let's see what you've got...
    Engineer to board: I've got good news and not so good news. The good news is the printer is working great, and I've brought several printed objects for you to take a look at.
    Board member: What's the bad news? Production costs are higher than estimated?
    Engineer: Well, not really. We have a scale problem. Unfortunately, the intern that exported the CAD blueprints to the machinists wasn't used t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is this? An empire state building for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read... if they can't even fit inside the building?

    This needs to be... at least three times bigger!

  • When reading the summary I thought - it would take a very long while to print a spaceship nano particle at a time (or micro particle as it turns out).
    Only on reading the article did it clarify its a 'model' spaceship.

  • micro is 10 to the minus 6 (1 millionth)
    nano is 10 to the minus 9 (1 billionth)

    So a nanoscale printer should have a resolution of 1 nanometre
    A metre is the standard unit of length
    A meter is a device for measuring something eg thermometer

    • "scale" isn't an SI unit. Nanotechnology is defined as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. 30nm resolution is nanoscale.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Three lousy thou? I could hit sizes of one thou (0.001") easily when I was first learning to machine (manually).

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:27AM (#43200841)
    This isn't about printing nano scale action figures it's about making nano scale prototype parts. It may not be true nano scale printing as some point out but it's close and still printing on a scale which would require extremely expensive hardware. A few years ago there was no such things as 3D printing and now they are printing at several thousandth scale. How long until they are printing based on individual atoms?
  • Because the biggest problem with existing 3d printers, IMO, was lack of precision. Combine this precision with large-scale 3d printing, and you'll be able to print up extremely precise components whose measurements matter almost to the micron.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:23AM (#43201153)

      You're barking up the wrong tree. Getting to this precision isn't the problem with "normal scale" prototyping. That could be accomplished long before the advent of 3D printing, and high precision prototypes are not really the area where 3D printers are used. At least not the consumer grade models that most people know about.

      3D printing was and is about is to make the whole deal cheap. To give everyone access to the ability to produce plastic prototypes that doesn't involve a process that resembles playing with very expensive Play-Doh.

      This thing is a completely different beast altogether. From the looks of it alone you can easily tell that "cheap" wasn't really one of the corner stones this project rested on. Building really tiny things was.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        I would suggest that the single biggest reason that 3d printers aren't used in the area of high precision prototypes may only be because their resolution hasn't been good enough.

        It's too bad this isn't likely to be particular cheap, like contemporary home 3d printing is.

        One application that I can easily imagine high precision consumer 3d printing being used for includes creating very precisely detailed miniatures (typically where the fineness of detail serves some aesthetic interest, particularly when

        • There are high quality, high detail and high precision 3D printing options very available. They're far from the hobbyist 3D printers that you may have at home, though. There isn't just one way to 3D print, just like with normal printers there are various ways how material is formed, and all those methods have their advantages and shortcomings. Extrusion (the currently probably most common hobbyist method) is fairly cheap but it's quite inaccurate and has troubles with overhanging structures. GMP allows any

  • by mutube ( 981006 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:58AM (#43201243) Homepage


  • Even if it's not true "nano" scale, this technology could potentially enable the creation of micro drones the size of a mosquito. Imagine the potential...
  • tchotkes that will set off your hay fever. Can't wait.

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