The Guys Behind RepRap – Always Thinking Ahead and now it’s Graphene
I am currently working on a project for 3DPI that involves a historical piece on the 3D printing sector and this prompted me to go over some old interview notes with Adrian Bowyer, the original founder of RepRap, from a year or so back. This in turn induced me to check in and see what the guys are up to at RepRapPro.
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I was startled but absolutely delighted to find the latest blog post from last week pointing to ideas they are formulating concerning research into RepRaps printing Graphene — that material of materials!
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I have speculated about the 3D printing of nano materials for a while now, mostly in my head, but occasionally out loud. And Adrian was actually one of the people I voiced my thoughts to. Evidence for this can be found in the blog post I wrote after meeting him early last year.
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Anyway, back to the main point, the guys at RepRapPro reference a compelling paper by El Cady et al, which considers the use of graphene for making capacitors. El Cady and his team were able to coat DVD-sized discs with a colloid of graphene oxide (GO) and subsequently use a LightScribe DVD writer to zap the GO with the writer’s 780nm infrared laser thus converting the GO to conducting graphene.
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It also turns out that it is possible to produce GO from a freely available recipe from Chemistry of Materials or, alternatively, buy it direct online. The RepRapPro team further postulate that, “it should be straightforward to form a sol/colloid of it using sonication (possibly in an ultrasonic cleaner). It could then be deposited on conventionally reprapped 3D prints from a specially designed head (for example like this single-drop inkjet) then zapped with an IR laser on the head to convert the GO to graphene. The result would not just be another route to printable conductors – you can make all sorts of active electronic devices, including transistors …”
But for anyone that needs it spelt out, this is early research, albeit ongoing.