Vidmantas Sakalys, CEO
If 3D printing technology needs to take centre stage in the manufacturing industry, it has to offer more than what it has been offering. The manufacturing of face masks and nasal swabs was done using 3D printing. However, the industry will benefit further if 3D printing can support the development of microstructures. Assembly-free 3D mechanical micro-structures have the potential to change the 3D printing landscape. Currently, these supporting micro-structures are fabricated separately, and Vilnius, Lithuania based Femtika aims to change that. “Our technology allows us to fabricate structures without supports as the material that we use supports itself,” says Vidmantas Sakalys, CEO, Femtika. “This way we bring new opportunities for micro-devices 3D printing for high-tech applications.”
Femtika offers Laser Nanofactory Workstation, a femtosecond laser 3D microfabrication workstation which encompasses additive and subtractive techniques in one workstation. Such a combination is unique to the world of 3D printing and can be termed as a big step forward in the micro-fabrication process, and opens the door to the manufacturing of a whole new range of sophisticated devices. The fact that it can be done in one system has its advantage as the need to assemble parts is out of the picture. This has made Femtika one of the frontrunners in 3D laser nanolithography.
Laser Nanofactory and its variations employ a host of technologies that enable the workstation to produce different types of microstructures.
Multiphoton polymerization, an additive manufacturing technique, is a direct laser writing technique to fabricate arbitrary shape 3D micro-and nano-structures with extremely high resolution. Laser Ablation is a subtractive manufacturing technique based on ultra-fast interaction between material, and fs-laser irradiation allows “cold processing” with minimal thermal effect and superb cut and drill quality. Selective Laser Etching is another subtractive technique that is used to create mechanically stable and durable structures following a two step process - ultrashort radiation for modifying glass or sapphire followed by chemically etching the material. The workstation’s Hybrid Fabrication is a unique technique used when several different technologies are combined in a single structure, resulting in multi-material devices.
Femtika has been able to employ linear stage and Galvano-scanner synchronization and amplified femtosecond laser source to enable rapid manufacturing of mesoscale structures combining nano-level precision. “Our products are used in laboratories in the U.K. and France, and Universities in Switzerland, Taiwan, Lithuania and Germany,” says Sakalys.
Having its foundation in the Laser Research Center of Vilnius University, Femtika aims to solve everyday problems by introducing robust solutions using Laser NanoFactory Workstation. The company believes in the future of customized medicine and is investing R&D efforts in the development of prototypes of 3D printed micro-mechanical medical devices. Also, the company performs in-house research in up-and-coming areas like micro-optics, microfluidics and microbots. The company is collaborating with a French start-up to develop micro-robot for manoeuvring in the human bloodstream. Femtika is responsible for the fabrication of the mechatronics part for this device.
From creating scaffolds for bio-pacemakers in the labs of Laser Research Center to developing innovative micro-medical devices for low flow liquid speed monitoring to be used for very precise release of potent drugs during a surgical operation, Femtika is making long strides in its mission to push forward 3D micro-device printing. Coming two years will see Femtika increase the speed of printing of complicated structures while aiming to enter the U.S-market.