Graphene 3D Printing
Graphene 3D Printing
Using Graphene in a 3D Printer
By Joseph Cafariello
Monday, April 29th, 2013
Monday, April 29th, 2013
Since its discovery in 2004 by a pair of scientists at the University of Manchester, England, graphene has been sitting around the lab waiting for applications like a genie in a bottle waiting for someone to make some wishes.
That genie will soon be very, very busy fulfilling the latest wish being asked of it—“Make me whatever I want, whenever I want it, and delivery it wherever I want in the world.” And the genie made of graphene says, “Your wish is my command.”
American Graphite Technologies Inc. (OTCBB:AGIN) just announced its letter of intent to partner with three Ukraine-based research facilities—the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, the Ukraine National Science Centre, and the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology ("KIPT")—to develop a 3D printing technology using the wonder substance graphene as the crafting material.
The 3D printers they produce will mean nothing less than the mass production of genies.
Current 3D Printing
Current 3D printers use liquids, powders, paper, or sheet materials to manufacture objects by pouring or adding one layer upon another according to an item’s blueprints.
Since these blueprints can be downloaded from the Internet, objects can be manufactured, or printed, anywhere on the planet that has Internet access—even in one’s own garage. No more waiting for ordered parts, and no more shipping and handling charges.
With a 3D printer in your home and an Internet connection, you could build your own car parts, a prototype for that new invention you’ve been dreaming, even your own art sculptures.
The only limitations to the objects currently being printed today is size and strength. A typical 3D printer can lay down layers around 100 micrometres thin, with the most precise printers capable of achieving a thinness of 16 micrometres. By comparison, a human hair can range from 17 to 180 micrometres.
But by using graphene as the building material, 3D printers would be able to manufacture parts that are superior to those printable today by four main metrics: strength, light-weight, flexibility, and conductivity.
Because of the way graphene’s carbon atoms lock together in a hexagonal grid similar to chicken wire, graphene material is tougher to crack than diamonds and 300 times harder to tear than steel. Imagine using a graphene 3D printer to print out a virtually unbreakable drill bit or tool!
Yet despite such strength and hardness, layers can be made that are just one atom thick while still retaining their super strength and toughness. A number of single-atom layers fused together make it flexible, even rollable. Its strength-to-weight ratio is unmatched by any other material.
What is more, you can run electricity through it better than even copper wire, making it ideal for use in electronics. 3D printers using graphene would be capable of printing electronic components such as a new screen for your laptop or a solar panel mat for your roof.
From unbreakable mirrors to diamond-strength tools to light-weight super-tough auto parts to delicate electronics, 3D graphene printers will give every household or business its very own genie in a bottle.
If you were able to buy shares in the Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) when it first introduced its Model T, or Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock when it introduced its first iPod, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t jump on the opportunity.
Graphene and its whole slew of applications in the works will undoubtedly become a market far more lucrative than autos or computers could ever be.
Already there are many companies spear-heading research and development in the graphene field, including American Graphite Technologies Inc. (OTCBB:AGIN) noted at the outset, currently trading for under a dollar per share.
The company introduces itself at its website:
“American Graphite Technologies is an American publicly-traded mining company that is also listed on a US Stock Exchange. The Company reports quarterly and yearly audits as well as material events to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).”“By concentrating on securing domestic graphite mining opportunities and the commercialization of graphene specific proprietary technology methods, management is seeking to bring profit opportunities and maximize shareholder value.”
The company’s CEO Rick Walchuck is optimistic over the newly announced partnership with the Ukrainian-based research facilities noted above. “I have been meeting with our collaboration partners at KIPT over the past week in Ukraine and I am very excited about the project that we are about to embark on,” quotes the press release. “We are currently finalizing the details and expect to release more information on the project shortly.”
One could also invest in conventional 3D printing companies that do not use graphene yet, as it will only be a matter of time before they start using it.