Graphene model by James Hedberg
From stone, to plastic bottles, and even metal, there is a growing list of materials that can be extruded by a 3D printer. Now, American Graphite Technologies is trying to add graphene to that list. Graphene is one of the world’s strongest materials thanks to its unique, atom-sized interlocking lattice structure, but at the same time it’s also a classically hard to manufacture material. Researchers from the US company have teamed up with with Kharkov Institute of Physics in Ukraine to change that by making the material 3D printable.
Photo via Shutterstock
The two groups of researchers received the approval from Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine to begin the 3D printing conversion project at the beginning of October. A project team consisting of 8 scientists with backgrounds in solid-state physics, physical materials and thermal physics will experiment nanostructured carbon to create an extrudable version of graphene.
Previously, the American Graphite Technologies’ scientists produced a new type of graphene paper called buckypaper. The thin sheet of carbon is still being experimented with, however, the scientists say it could revolutionize automobiles, aircraft, displays, electronics, batteries, medical treatments and more industries in years to come. A printable string of graphite could yield even more uses in the long run assuming it works.
We’ve already seen graphene implemented into everything including solar panels, clothing, and electrically conductive paper. Creating a version of the material that can be fabricated into any shape and thickness with ease could speed up the development process even faster by allowing anyone with a compatible 3D printer to start printing their own pieces of graphene.