One of the more common questions I hear, from those just beginning to find an interest in the 3D printing space, goes something like this: “When will we be able to 3D print a smartphone?”
Although such a thought brings up ideas and visions written about in popular science fiction novels, more than likely over the next couple of decades such a feat will in fact be plausible. The rate of advancement we are seeing within the 3D printing space is astonishing, to put it mildly. Every day new breakthroughs are being achieved, and ideas which seemed impossible only a few short years ago are becoming commonplace.
There has already been several successful attempts at 3D printing electronic components and circuitry, and progress is being made in the area of multimaterial printing. One area which will need to advance before we see complex portable electronics being fabricate through additive manufacturing, is that of battery manufacturing. The 3D printing of a battery isn’t a new concept. There have been attempts and mild successes in the past, however, one company may be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Yesterday, Graphene 3D Lab Inc. announced that they have filed a provisional patent application related to 3D printable batteries, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The batteries, which are based on the super material known as graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, could outperform even some of the best energy storage devices on the market today, according to the company.
“The application filed by Graphene 3D has the potential to play an important role in achieving the ability to print electronic devices due to the necessity of providing a power source,” stated Daniel Stolyarov, CEO of Graphene 3D. “Expanding our IP portfolio in this area is an important step in keeping with Graphene 3D’s primary goal of creating an ecosystem for 3D printing functional devices with advanced materials.”
The Vancouver based company, which is a spinout from Graphene Laboratories, Inc, focuses their efforts on the development and manufacturing of materials for 3D printing which have been enhanced with graphene. They are not alone in trying to merge the areas of additive manufacturing with that of graphene. In fact, there are several companies who are actively working on 3D printer filaments which are infused with super material, as well as other applications for the graphene within the 3D printing space. A 3D printed graphene based battery, however, could be even a bigger game changer for several industries. The ability to 3D print a battery allows for custom shapes to be introduced into the world of electronics where companies are trying to cram as many components into the smallest space possible.
“A 3D printed battery can be incorporated into a 3D printed object during the building process,” explained Stolyarov. “In addition, 3D printed batteries have several advantages over traditional batteries. Their shape, size and specifications can be freely adjusted to fit the particular design of the device. Our batteries are based on graphene and can potentially outperform conventional batteries. Graphene 3D plans to perform live demonstrations of our 3D printed batteries.”
It will be interesting to see how far along the company is, and just what they have achieved. The date of such a demonstration has yet to be announced. Let’s hear your thoughts on this possible game changing application for 3D printing in the 3D printed battery forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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