Scientists testing the capabilities of new printing technology have used 3D printer supplies to create a tiny model of a Formula One car that measures less than a third of a millimetre in length.
The team from the Vienna University of Technology stated the technique is a major breakthrough in printing, as it has been achieved much faster than previous modelling performed on this scale – taking just four minutes to build up the layers of resin required to complete the design.
Despite its small size, there is still a large amount of detail in the model, such as suspension, aerodynamics and a steering wheel. Other demonstration pieces created by the team include a representation of Tower Bridge and Vienna's St Stephens Cathedral.
The technique used for the creations, known as "two-photon lithography", uses a liquid resin that is hardened at the correct spots by a highly precise laser beam, which is manoeuvred through the material using movable mirrors.
The result of this is a line of solid polymer just a few hundred nanometres across, which enables the creation of sculptures as small as a grain of sand.
Potential applications for the technology include medical uses, the researchers stated, as it could be used to create 'scaffolds' on which living cells can attach themselves to create working biological tissue.
This technique has already been used by scientists at Washington State University in the US to develop bone-like materials using an inkjet printer.
Professor Jurgen Stampfl, from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at the Vienna University of Technology, said: "Until now, this technique used to be quite slow."
He added: "The printing speed used to be measured in millimetres per second – our device can do five metres in one second," which is a world record for two-photon lithography and may bring the technique a step closer to becoming commercially viable.