This sounds very promising. Lower costs mean more freedom to tinker and more practical utilization. Totally different field here, but on-site 3D printing is within reach of the small- to mid-sized business now with some of Objet‘s smaller models.
From the first link:
A Northwestern University research team has done just that — drawing 15,000 identical skylines with tiny beams of light using an innovative nanofabrication technology called beam-pen lithography (BPL).
Details of the new method, which could do for nanofabrication what the desktop printer has done for printing and information transfer, will be published Aug. 1 by the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The Northwestern technology offers a means to rapidly and inexpensively make and prototype circuits, optoelectronics and medical diagnostics and promises many other applications in the electronics, photonics and life sciences industries.
“It’s all about miniaturization,” said Chad A. Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology. “Rapid and large-scale transfer of information drives the world. But conventional micro- and nanofabrication tools for making structures are very expensive. We are trying to change that with this new approach to photolithography and nanopatterning.”
“Such an instrument would allow researchers at universities and in the electronics industry around the world to rapidly prototype — and possibly produce — high-resolution electronic devices and systems right in the lab,” Mirkin said. “They want to test their patterns immediately, not have to wait for a third-party to produce prototypes, which is what happens now.”