FluidFM micro 3D metal printing
Create at the microscale using FluidFM technology.
19 January, 2016by
FluidFM micro 3D metal printing
Pablo Doerig

Today we have an exciting story to share with you. Scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a novel method to use FluidFM as a precise micro 3D printing tool for metal structures and other potentially interesting materials.

The new method offers great opportunities for research and industrial application and we are working hard to bring this technology into the hands of our customers as fast as possible.

Successful collaboration with ETH Zurich

The core technology of the new method has been developed in the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics at ETH Zurich. The long-standing collaboration of ETH Zurich and Cytosurge has been very fruitful for both parties from the beginning. We constantly provide our ETH partners with our newest devices and prototypes. They can use these for their own research. This way they help us with testing of the instruments and offer suggestions for improvement and further developments. “It’s a mutual give and take of which both sides profit greatly”, says Tomaso Zambelli, associate lecturer and group leader at the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics at ETH Zurich. This win-win setup has now yielded in the development of this promising new micro 3D printing technique.

Feeling the object that is being built

A significant advantage of the new method over other micro 3D printing processes is that the forces acting on the apex of the FluidFM pipette can be measured and controlled with high precision. “We can use this signal as feedback. Unlike other 3D printing systems, ours can detect which areas of the object have already been printed,” says Luca Hirt, ETH doctoral student and inventor of the new 3D printing technique. “This will make it easier to further automate and scale the printing process.”

“This method can be also be used to print not only copper but also other metals,” adds Tomaso Zambelli, “FluidFM may even be suitable for 3D printing with polymers and composite materials.“

To give an impression about the capabilities of the technique we have put together a gallery of pictures with various 3D micro object made from pure copper. Additional imagery can also be found in a news article of ETH Zurich and in the associated scientific publication.

Meeting the challenges of the future with innovative solutions

3D printing and industry 4.0 are two of the mega trends of the coming years. In many industries they go together with the urge for continuing miniaturization, customized mass production as well as ever shorter developmental and production cycles. To respond to these trends, innovative solutions are needed. With the newly developed 3D print technology based on FluidFM we can offer an interesting tool to meet these future challenges. We see many growth opportunities and possibilities for our customers to increase their efficiency in various markets and industries. The newly developed micro 3D print technology based on FluidFM comes at exactly the right time. 

A few years ago, Pascal Behr was significantly involved in the development of the FluidFM technology at ETH Zurich. Today he is our CEO and is excited by the new possibilities of FluidFM micro 3D printing: “We see a great market potential in this additive manufacturing technology and a chance for our company to further diversify”, he says. “We are convinced by the idea to use FluidFM for micro 3D printing. The next step is to further optimize the applications together with interested researchers at universities as well as in the industry - for example in the watchmaking industry, in medical device sector or for MEMS technology.” As one possible implication Behr mentions rapid prototyping, the fast and simple production of micro sized prototypes using 3D printing.

Bringing FluidFM micro 3D printing to you

At Cytosurge we are committed to integrate the new 3D printing features into our existing product line in the near future. We have already licensed the necessary patents from ETH Zurich and are currently enhancing our existing product line to support this new technique. With this, we intend to bring FluidFM based 3D print technology into the hands of interested research teams in industry as well as at universities as soon as possible. Please contact us today if you are interested to be among the first people to get started!

We are further planning the development of a dedicated product line for industrial applications. In this context Cytosurge takes a great interest in cooperating with established industrial partners as well as potential investors to accelerate current developments. If you know anybody who might be interested in this, please help us and share the news to let them know! 

Truly exciting times are coming up for FluidFM. Be sure to sign up for our Newsletter in order to stay informed. We are looking forward to share more interesting stories with you shortly.