Lithuanian researchers from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University have 3D printed the world’s smallest nativity scene. The nanoscale-sized gift was given to Pope Francis for Christmas.
Last week, Pope Francis paid a highly anticipated visit to Lithuania, and his presence was commemorated with an unprecedentedly tiny gift. During his travels, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė presented the leader of the Catholic Church with a nanoscale-sized nativity scene.
This piously miniature gift, which is smaller than a human cell was created in the nanoscale with laser 3D printing technology. The project was headed by researchers from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU), and created within the local creativity and innovation centre LinkMenų Fabrikas.
The religiously significant scene has been submitted to the Guinness World Records for being the world’s smallest nativity scene.
3D Printed Nano-Nativity Scene Celebrates Big Tradition in Small Size
To create the nanoscale adornment, the research team 3D scanned fifteen sculptures from the nativity scene at the Cathedral Square in Vilnius. They then reduced the size of the 3D models 10,000 times to 300 micrometres (0.3 mm), making it small enough to be placed on a single human eyelash.
The VGTU team collaborated with the Laser Research Center at Vilnius University, the micro-fabrication company Femtika, and the 3D tech company Ideja 3D. Not only does the nativity scene make for a thoughtful gift for the visiting pope, it also showcases the technological leap that local businesses in Lithuania have made.
“With the festive season upon us, we would like to demonstrate to the world an exceptional science and business potential in high-technology market in Lithuania. We do not only master the technology, but we are also able to apply it creatively by developing a new form to an old tradition, and combining both intellectual and cultural achievements of humanity,” said Eglė Girdzijauskaitė, Vice Director at VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas”.
There were a total of five nano-nativity scenes 3D printed. One was gifted to Pope Francis, one will remain in the Lithuanian Presidential Palace in Vilnius, another in Vilnius Archdiocese, while the last two will be showcased to the public at LinkMenų fabrikas and Vilnius Municipality.