Last summer, materials scientist Dr. Mamoun Taher, a researcher in the Department of Chemistry at Uppsala University in Sweden, worked with serial entrepreneur Björn Lindh to found a startup company, of which Taher is the CEO, called Graphmatech. Not only is the startup part of top European business accelerator the InnoEnergy Highway, which specializes in sustainable energy, but it also belongs to SynerLeap, the ABB Corporate Research Center‘s innovation growth hub.
Back when Taher was working on graphene materials as a postdoc at Uppsala, he discovered just how many properties were lost when the thin flakes stuck to each other during large-scale production, and determined to find a solution.
Now one of the top 10 companies in the 2018 Nordic Cleantech Open startup competition, Graphmatec is doing pretty well for itself, and Taher even developed a new form of graphene, called Aros Graphene, which makes it possible to use the complex material on a larger scale in industry.
Graphene, a two-dimensional carbon material, is increasingly being used in 3D printing applications, and is 200 times stronger than steel, but 12% lighter weight than the second lightest material in the world. While the material poses difficulties when it comes to bulk production, it’s great for conducting electricity and heat, and 3D printable materials can be improved by mixing graphene with nanocomposites.
Now, Graphmatech has teamed up with another material technology startup, Add North 3D, to develop conductive, novel filaments for 3D printing, based on its own patented Aros Graphene nanocomposite material.
According to the Add North 3D website, “3D printing offers unique possibilities to test new materials and we want to be in the forefront in contributing to replacing the black carbon atom with the green one in all possible parts of society.”
Swedish materials developer Add North 3D, which got its start in 2016, specializes in FFF/FDM materials. For the last two years, the startup has been focused on consumables, developing new materials, such as its new matte material add:architect, and sustainable plastic solutions. It also works on development projects, such as creating a new process to make 3D printable PLA from the country’s forest industry side-streams, that are financed by the Swedish Innovation Authority.
The startup is now getting ready to introduce an international expansion, and Aros Graphene-based filament will be one of its cornerstones.
Recently, Graphmatec developed a cost-efficient, scalable process for coating polymer granular and powder with its Aros Graphene material to gain high-quality dispersion. The process is a “compounding step” before filaments are extruded, and could also be put to work coating polymer granular and powder with different types of additives.
Aros Graphene is easy to disperse in polymers, and Graphmatec’s technology makes it possible to tailor the precise level of the filament’s conductivity, which will introduce a whole new range of 3D printing applications, including thermal management components, electromagnetic and radiofrequency shields, sensors, and circuit boards.
Taher said in May, “We’ve seen that a thermal paste that contains Aros Graphene is 180 percent more thermally conductive than other thermal paste products on the market. In the close future where more and more data centres will be needed to store data, there is huge demand for advanced thermal management solutions.”
The new conductive filaments by Add North 3D and Graphmatec will soon be optimized, and then they will be put through beta testing with a reference group. The material is expected to hit the market within the next 6-12 months.
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