Scientists develop world's smallest 3-D printer

Developed by researchers at the Vienna University of Technology, the new printer is believed to revolutionise the three-dimensional printing technology, making it accessible and affordable for all.

Most 3-D printers available currently are too large and too expensive for private use.
But the new printer, which costs about USD 1,700 may finally change that by providing rapid fabrication in smaller size and lower price needed by the home consumer, said the researchers.

"We will continue to reduce the size of the printer, and the price will definitely decrease too, if it is produced in large quantities," Klaus Stillmann, one of its creators, was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

According to the researchers, the objects are printed with a special type of resin that "hardens precisely where it is illuminated with intense beams of light".

"Layer for layer, the synthetic resin is irradiated at exactly the right spots. When one layer hardens, the next layer can be attached to it, until the object is completed."

This enables the smaller printer to make much more intricate interior designs than larger 3-D printers which rely on casting techniques. This process, the researchers said, also makes it possible to make individually adjusted pieces.

The individual layers hardened by the light beams are just one-twentieth of a millimetre thick, which makes them perfect for constructing items such as the parts for hearing aids -- a process that requires extraordinary precision, they added.

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