3D printers are pretty awesome, but none are quite amazing as this particular one that crafted a tiny spaceship that sits at 125 micrometers long, which is about the diameter of a human hair. The printer that made the spaceship was unveiled at the Photonics West Fair by Nanoscribe, which is a German company that specializes in nanophotonics and 3D laser lithography.
The spaceship is a replica of a Hellcat from the classic 90s video game Wing Commander. the ship took around 50 seconds to print and it measures 125 micrometers long x 81 micrometers wide x 26.8 micrometers tall. The printer used two-photon polymerization in order to craft the spaceship. This process uses short laser pulses, which activate photo-sensitive liquid polymer.
Of course, this thing can’t actually fly, but it goes to show just how tiny you can actually 3D-print things. Of course, the printer can print other things besides nifty spaceships. Other products that include tiny proportions are biological scaffolds and ultralight metamaterials.
The video above shows the entire 50-second process of building the spaceship from start to finish. You can see the laser pulses travel from the bottom to the top and witness the spaceship being built right before your eyes. While it doesn’t look like much at first glance, knowing that the object is the width of a human hair is simply incredible.