Much of the technical progress in the world of 3D printing sees the technology being pushed to its max, with super-sized printers churning out everything from houses to boats. One YouTuber has gone in the other direction, with what looks like an impossibly tiny 3D printer churning out even tinier 3D prints with a surprising level of detail.
We assumed 3D printers couldn’t get much smaller than Sean Hodgins’ 3D-printed Christmas ornament, which also happens to double as a fully-functional miniature 3D printer that creates even smaller ornaments. But if there’s a record to be broken, it’s always safe to assume that there’s another YouTuber diligently working to break it.
There aren’t too many practical uses for the incredibly tiny 3D printer that YouTuber My N Mi has created, but that’s not the point: the fact that it even exists at this scale is what’s impressive. Measuring in at just 0.67-inches tall, the printer is no taller than a wooden matchstick, but is somehow still fully functional—although without all the bells and whistles you’d find on even a standard home 3D printer.
Instead of going the extrusion route, which would require the printer to wrangle considerably more hardware and melt plastic filament (which would probably be far too thick for this machine to handle anyway), My N Mi’s machine uses the stereolithography approach. In this approach, a liquid resin is injected into a small chamber and hardened, layer by layer, by an array of UV LEDs at the bottom.
The first video in this article demonstrates the machine 3D-printing a simple robot figure, but it’s capable enough to create even smaller objects, including a version of the Benchy tugboat that’s small enough to sit on the head of a matchstick. We can’t say we’ve ever had the need for a plastic boat small enough to swallow, but these devoted efforts to shrink 3D printing tech hopefully point towards a future where the technology is more affordable and accessible.