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3-D Printing - A powerful tool gains momentum

by Kathy Chambers 29 May, 2014 in


3-D Printing - A powerful tool gains momentum

3D printing technology is gaining fresh momentum in Department of Energy (DOE) research endeavors. 3D printing is achieved using an additive manufacturing process that creates 3D objects directly from a computer model, depositing material layer by layer only where required. This technology is expected to exert a profound impact on an increasing array of applications in architecture, engineering, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, dental and medical industries, biotechnology, apparel, eyewear, education, geographic information systems, and many other fields.  

Scientists at DOE facilities are using 3D printing technology to help industry adopt new manufacturing technologies, reduce life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production cost, and create new products and opportunities for high-paying jobs. A quick glimpse into some current DOE research projects provides an idea of how 3D printing technology is providing opportunities for practical advances in science.

Collaborators from a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) have shown that 3D printing can be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand for potential use in tiny medical or communication devices. The team, based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, printed precisely interlaced stacks of tiny battery electrodes with ink, each less than the width of a human hair. The team also designed a broad range of functional inks with useful chemical and electrical properties to utilize in the creation of precise structures with electronic, optical, mechanical, or biologically relevant properties.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) colleagues are ...

Related Topics: 3D Printing, additive manufacturing, Ames Laboratory, Energy Frontier Research Centers, ORNL