Bringing Clean Water to Everyone Via 3D Printing: The Launch of the Naked Filter

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liquidity techcrunchAs John Lennon once said, “We all wanna change the world.” In the case of Liquidity Nanotech, there might actually be a chance that a dream of that nature could be fulfilled. They will be launching their newest innovation “the Naked Filter” at Disrupt NY 2015. And with the team they have working on this project, there is every reason to have high expectations for their efforts.

These aren’t a bunch of wide-eyed idealists. Instead, the collaborators’ resumes read like a red carpet list of clean water superstars. The company’s Chief Technical Officer has come to Liquidity via 3M’s Worldwide Water Group, another member joins after a stint as the technical lead at Brita, and one of the founders was responsible for the invention of the process of reverse osmosis. Not too shabby at all.screen-shot-2015-05-04-at-7-24-34-am

The Naked water bottle looks a lot like other portable water bottles on the market today. However, a close examination (so close it requires a microscope) reveals a fundamental difference in the mechanism that is used to filter the water and make it safe for drinking. There are an abundance of water filtration systems available, but most of them require the user to choose whether they screen-shot-2015-05-04-at-7-24-11-amwould prefer ease of use or effectiveness of the filtration. The folks at Liquidity want to ensure that it is no longer an either/or decision.

Access to clean drinking water is now considered to be a basic human right and yet there are still large numbers of people for whom that is not a regular possibility. The potential that Liquidity is offering is in the filter itself rather than in the delivery system and it is made possible through a process known as electro-spinning 3D printing technology. This process wasn’t something they could do just by picking up a printer from a store. Instead, they have spent the past decade developing the necessary technology to create this revolutionary new filter.

The filter itself relies on a nano-fiber membrane that is created when a container of liquid polymer is drawn out onto a plate as they are both subject to a precisely controlled amount of voltage. The drawing out process radically attenuates the strands of the polymer until they are so thin that the simple resistance of air is enough to prevent their further movement. At this point, they begin to solidify and leave a 3D printed mat with a drastically greater amount of open, porous space than other filters (traditional filters are approximately 20% porous while the nano fiber equivalent is 80-90% porous).

screen-shot-2015-05-04-at-7-29-15-amThe nearly unimaginably tiny spaces between the fibers, only .2 microns, means that in addition to removing impurities from the water, it can also block microbes such as Salmonella and e. coli. The potential for this filter to have a profound impact on the quality of drinking water for people around the world is immediately apparent.

And, of course, the wow factor is the kind that scientists, human rights activists, and thirsty people around the world can truly appreciate.

Have you used the Naked Filter? Let us know if you might get one for home or on-the-go use at the Liquidity Launches Naked Filter forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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