Researchers at the University of Twente have developed a new laser printing technique that allows for the 3D printing of gold nanostructures, including complex overhanging structures. By pointing a very short laser pulse at the nanometer metal film, a small drop of liquid metal is sprayed onto the matrix where it solidifies.This technique is called laser induced forward transfer or lift. Researchers have been using it to build tiny, complex structures out of copper and gold.Copper ACTS as a mechanical support for gold.
LIFT will enable 3D printing of microelectronics or optoelectronics.The example researchers use is a tiny spiral that can act as both a mechanical spring and an electronic conductor.
Lift technology can also be used for other metals or metal combinations.It has great potential in the fields of electronic circuits, micromechanical devices and biomedical application sensing. Using copper as a "sacrificial" material, more complex structures can be 3D printed, such as those with cantilevers, such as spirals. This technology, like other additive manufacturing technologies, has the potential to save time and money while still producing complex parts.