In my eyes, if there’s a technology out there that fulfills Buckminster Fuller’s principle of “doing more with less”, its 3D printing. And if there’s a material out there that also fulfills that principle, it has to be graphene, the newly harnessed carbon-based material, that is only a single atom thick and is said to be one of the strongest materials in the world. We’ve been awaiting the time when the two would meet and, now, we’re one baby step closer.
Back in May, 3DPI covered news that American Graphite Technologies Inc. was partnering with the Ukranian Kharkiv Institute of Physics & Technology (“KIPT”) in a project to 3D print using the strong and flexible material. The US graphite mining and technology company announced that the project has begun moving forward and that they’ve received their first abstract from project manager of the scientific team at the university, D.V. Vynogradov.
The research team is made-up of 8 scientists, including professors, PhD students and three former weapons scientists and their knowledge base covers everything from nano materials to thermal physics. According to the abstract submitted by Vynogradov for the project, titled P-600, “the perspective scope of research as we think are thin films and extremely small-scale objects with nano and micro-meter dimensions. Thus, we plan to pay special attention to the research with creating the graphene objects into nano and micro-meter typical size.”
Now, the team of scientists awaits approval from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine, to proceed to conducting the actual research, which should only take another two weeks. This may mean that we’re approaching the realization of 3D-printed graphene, and soon. And when they are able to accomplish this feat, the possibilities seem endless. As Shane reported in a previous post, graphene is highly conductive, about 35% more conductive than copper, and researchers at MIT have found a way to create a graphene-based semiconductor. American Graphite Technology explains a range of uses in the electronics field:
In addition to replacing conductive metals and making advances in transistor development, graphene has shown promise in a number of other applications as well. Due to graphene’s monolayer structure, it is extremely sensitive to contact with even a single molecule of another substance. As a result, it can be used to develop remarkably sensitive gas monitoring equipment. Graphene is the toughest material ever discovered and possesses high strength and flexibility as well. It is an ideal candidate for the development of lightweight composites that can be used in the construction of body armor, buildings, and aircrafts. Other applications that currently utilize graphene include optoelectronics, solar panels, capacitors, batteries, high-speed nano-applications, ink production and high frequency identification tags.
AGT includes this video from 3M on their site to wow us with a world of flexible touch screens that could be made with the wonder material:
My uneducated guess is that 3D-printed graphene will be with us in maybe… three weeks. No, wait… 3 days! Okay, maybe 3 months… or possibly 3 years. 3 decades, tops!