In an industry where most innovators are looking to go bigger, the Germany-based 3D printing company Nanoscribe aims to disrupt the industry on a much smaller scale. Currently, the microfabrication pioneers have involved themselves in a number of projects, and are continuing to expand their reach around the globe. In their latest news release, Nanoscribe revealed their latest work with microlattice structures, 3D printed mechanical metamaterials, and tiny micro-motors that they call “spermbots”.
Lattice structures are oftentimes celebrated for their superior strength and material efficiency, and Nanoscribe has been developing what is said to be the smallest lattice structures ever. Fabricated with their Phototonic Professional 3D laser lithography system, the microlattices were transformed into glassy carbon through a unique heating treatment called pyrolysis. With this technique, Nanoscribe found that the polymeric microlattices had overcome current limits in resolution, effectively creating ultra-strong nanolattice structures at less than 1 µm. During the heating treatment, the lattices reportedly shrunk up to 80% isotropically, bringing them down to a size that is considered a world record for the smallest lattice structures ever fabricated.
Essentially, these glassy carbon nanolattices are a major feat in the world of lightweight mechanical materials, and could potentially yield new materials that are stronger, tougher, lighter, and more durable than we are capable of today. That’s not all that Nanoscribe has been conjuring up, they’re also taking their microfabrication prowess into the human body, aiming to solve male infertility with micro-motors that they call “spermbots”. German researchers from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at IFW Dresden have been working to develop these spermbots to help deliver poorly swimming and low motility sperm to the oocyte for fertilization. To fabricate these micro-motors, the researchers turned to 3D laser lithography, which was capable of printing both small and precise enough.
Not only is Nanoscribe helping the sperm reach the egg, they’re also expanding their own company overseas. They’ve also just announced their first-ever Latin American customer, the Mexico City-based Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). The university now has their first 3D pritner specialized for micro scaling, which they plan to apply towards research in microfluidics, sensors, life sciences, photonics, and THz metamaterials. In addition to branching out into Latin America, Nanoscribe is also widening their grasp on optics and mechanical metamaterials.
This past spring, Nanoscribe hosted a one-day workshop called “Optics Design and Simulation”, which united the professional networks from Photonics BW and Bayern Photonics within a platform for discussion and innovative ideas. The University of Stuttgart’s professor Harald Giessen presented his recent research results in the fields of 3D printed micro-optics. Nanoscribe has also challenged itself to make better use of mechanical metamaterials, working to develop a mechanical cloak, high-strength ceramic polymer composite, resilient 3D hierarchical metamaterial, and more.
It’s been an action-packed few months for Nanoscribe, which has managed to expand their business and research developments simultaneously. From microlattices and their newly developed spermbots, this microfabrication company seems to believe that the biggest breakthroughs come in the smallest forms.