ORNL researchers 3D print microscopic fidget spinner
The Nanoscribe machine that built this unique fidget spinner uses a focused laser to convert a liquid into a solid at a microscopic level.
Researchers are testing the bounds of 3D printing with new innovations and designs. With a drop of liquid, a cutting-edge laser 3D-printer and a few hours, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) made a fidget spinner smaller than the width of a human hair.
The microscale fidget spinner not only shows off current capabilities — measures only 100 microns wide, or one tenth of a millimetre — but its size and scale open the door for future innovation.
“We felt like it would be an interesting demonstration for younger people who may not know that the federal government maintains these user facilities around the country, which anybody can use as long as they submit a successful proposal,” said ORNL’s Adam Rondinone.
The Nanoscribe machine that built this unique fidget spinner uses a focused laser to convert a liquid into a solid at a microscopic level, enabling researchers to design and build complex structures with moving components. Researchers boast their innovation is one of the smallest 3D printed objects, measuring no more than a human hair. And the team hopes to continue their research using advanced 3D printing technology.
“Our job is to offer cutting-edge experiments, instrumentation and expertise, to help other scientists to achieve their goals,” Rondinone said.
And at CNMS, the tools are widely available to those in academia, the private sector, and research institutes worldwide — and free of charge to users who publish the results in the open literature.
“We work with industrial partners to help them identify fundamental science questions that we can answer and then publish in open literature, without jeopardizing their intellectual property,” he said.