It is amazing what has been achieved with the use of 3D printing technology, yet researchers have never managed to print a battery, that is until now.
Thanks to new types of ink and tools, it is possible to create 3D printed lithium ion cells. Materials scientist Jennifer Lewis from Harvard University, has developed a technique using a series of “functional inks that can solidify into batteries and simple components, including electrodes, wires and antennas.” In effect they are suspensions of nanoparticles of the desired materials (like lithium for batteries), which float in a binder.
High-pressure extruders are used to deposit the functional inks with great accuracy, forcing the ink out at room temperature. It dries very quickly, forming components at such a rate that it is possible to create a simple battery in a matter of minutes.
Technology Review explains why this is such a useful development: “Her printed lithium-ion batteries are as tiny as one millimeter square but perform as well as commercial batteries, because Lewis can render microscale architectures, and position structures with 100-nanometer accuracy, to mirror the structures of much bigger batteries.”
So these 3D printed batteries have the potential to replace current conventional cells but take up far less space. That is definitely an advancement.
[Images via Technology Review]