A team of researchers at the university of twente in the Netherlands has developed a method of 3D printing of metal microstructures made of solid gold.The technique pioneered by the team USES laser technology to deposit tiny metal droplets to form complex shapes.
The method is described in a recently published article in the journal Additive Manufacturing and is known as “laser-induced forward transfer” or LIFT. In more detail, the process involves melting a small drop of the metal in question by firing an ultrashort laser pulse onto a metal film (we're talking about a nanometer width). This droplet is then “ejected” onto its target and solidifies when it lands.
There are some challenges in developing lifts.For example, the researchers worry that the two metals will mix on the interface after being sprayed, which could affect the final quality of the 3D printing structure. Fortunately, the process was designed not to mix.As the team points out, the surface roughness of the structure is between 0.3 and 0.7 microns as the size of the metal droplet is only a few flying liters (about 10-15 liters).