New benchmarks for precision demonstrated with a race car 285 nanometers long.
3D Printing is the new big thing that we can expect in the next few years but when you can print things this small you are looking at pretty accurate manufacture. The new process uses a resin to construct the model which is hardened by focussing a laser exactly where it is needed. The catch used to be that the process was really slow (5 millimeters in a second) but now this has been upped to 5 meters a second. Modification of the mirrors used to direct the laser have helped the performance boost as well as the resin that has been specially developed to include molecules that only set when they are struck by two photons at once.
This is presenting really exciting opportunities for the areas of biomedicine.
At the other end of the scale, American company Defence Distributed has been granted a licence to produce Semi-Automatic firearms using 3D printing technology.
Previous prototypes have been tested to 600 rounds before failure and further performance increases are expected as the design and process is refined. Making guns is no big deal but when you can simply download a file and send it to a 3D printer then things get interesting. Manufacture of items on 3D printers is going to be hard to monitor and regulate which is causing governments and anti-gun lobbies concern. Law abiding citizens are expected to do the right thing but the problem arises when criminal organisations or individuals get their hands on 3D printers capable of manufacturing gun components and obtain or design their own plans for printing them. As with all technology when we look back to scanners and Laser printers and the threat they posed with counterfeiting money, measures were taken to combat the threat but in the case of manufacturing weapons, we may have to look to some more creative methods of control.