Leiden University scientists have 3D printed the world’s smallest boat that’s even capable of sailing in water.
According to Leiden physicists Rachel Doherty, Daniela Kraft and colleagues, the little boat measures 30 micrometers from prow and stern and is about a third of the thickness of a hair.
Designed to understand biological microswimmers (such as bacteria), the microboat was made using the group’s new Nanoscribe Photonic Professional printer.
The printer has also passed the 3DBenchy test – a standard 3D design for testing 3D-printers – with flying colors.
Though the microboat doesn’t have a propeller, the scientists have 3D printed spiral shaped particles, which rotate along while they are propelled through water.
In another development, Leeds and Edinburgh University scientists have 3D printed a synthetic silicone structure that mimics the topology, elasticity and wettability of the tongue’s surface.
According to the scientists, their biomimetic tongue opens new possibilities for testing oral processing properties of food, nutritional technologies, pharmaceutics and dry mouth therapies.
The artificial surface was 3D printed using digital light processing technology based in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Leeds.
According to study lead author Dr Efren Andablo-Reyes, hundreds of small bud-like structures called papilla give the tongue its characteristic rough texture that in combination to the soft nature of the tissue create a complicated landscape from a mechanical perspective.
Replicating this in their biomimetic tongue was no mean feat. They believe this artificial tongue could serve as a unique mechanical tool to detect counterfeit in food and high-valued beverages based on textural attributes.
The end goal is to understand how the biomechanics of the tongue underpin the fundamentals of human feeding and speech.
Images and content: 3DBenchy,Leiden University/University of Leeds