Graphene: 3D Printing Using This Amazing Material

by Matthew Wellington on June 11, 2013

Graphene for 3D Printers3D printing has had enormous benefits both in Prototyping and Object Fabrication. With the rapid implementation of the technology, the need for mass production of objects will be sooner or later completely rooted out.

People will be obtaining blueprints of objects online, from the comfort of their homes, and printing products instantly whenever one feels like. Not to mention that this will substantially lower the prices of acquiring objects for there will be no shipping or delivery costs involved.

However, the quick transformation of 3D printing from a mere prototyping technology to a method that can be used in the creation of final objects surfaced a number of issues. The biggest issue with 3D printing is the need to have a more reliable printing material. One that could be used to print high quality final objects and products that one could sell to the public.

So is Graphene the solution that we have been waiting for? Apparently, Yes. Graphene may finally be the best material for 3D printing that will considerably increase the quality of materials fished out.

Graphene is a unique material made out of graphite, which was first discovered by a group of scientists at the University of Manchester back in 2004. Now, American Graphite Technologies is already teaming up with other renowned research organizations like the National Academy of Science of Ukraine and the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology; to change 3D printing technology into using Graphene as the main object assembling material.

Rick Walchok, the CEO of American Graphite Technologies just recently told the press that the plans necessary for the project to kick-off are already underway between them and their collaborating partners. Therefore it may only be a matter of time before graphene starts to be used by all 3D printers in creating objects and prototypes.

What’s So Unique about Graphene?

Ever since the discovery of Graphene, Scientists and 3D enthusiasts have been yearning for the implementation of 3D printing using this amazing material. Rightfully so, because graphene is not like any other material you may have used before for 3D printing.

First of all, several studies done on the material have proved that Graphene is tougher than diamond and more than 200 times sturdier when compared to steel. The carbon atoms that make up graphene interlock with each other forming strong and impenetrable bonds. It is for this reason that even a one atom thick graphene material will still be many times stronger than any other material that has ever been used for 3D printing.

With such a robust printing material; imagine how many spare parts, tools and final objects that can be created without having to fuss about the quality of the products?

Besides its clearly unprecedented strength, it was also found out that Graphene could conduct electricity way better than copper. This means that the material can be used to create many of the parts that we use in basic common electronics in our homes and work places. It will now be possible to print at home TV screens, pc screens and even smartphone mobile screens using Graphene.

Keep in mind this is just a tip of the iceberg of the many applications that will be made possible when Graphene starts to be used in 3D printing. Remember graphene is a highly flexible material that can take the form of whatever shape you would like it to. Bending, stretching or twisting this material is not difficult. Given its outstanding flexibility that more or less matches that of rubber, a myriad of devices will therefore be made from it with little or no hassles.

As if those aren’t enough boons already, Graphene is said to be the lightest and thinnest material to ever exist. It is hardly heavy guaranteeing a light weight to all the objects that will be made from it. So just to give you a quick recap; the material is strong, extremely flexible, exceptionally light and conducts electricity: just the ideal material for 3D printing and prototyping.

Graphene Vs Current 3D Printing Materials

For the most part, ABS and PLA plastic have been the main printing materials which many of the 3D printers owned by companies and homeowners have been using. We cannot rule out the importance these two materials have hard in fabricating a great number of 3D models and objects, but one thing is for sure, plastic materials can only go so far.

One of the greatest challenges of using these materials often streamed out from the fact that plastics are utterly unreliable when planning to create large sized objects. 3D printing has for example been used to fabricate a bicycle before, but the quality of that bicycle was nowhere near the conventional bicycles in terms of strength and durability.

Consequently it really beats logic for a person to create 3D Printed Bicycles, take them to the market and hope to get good sales. They sure might look good, modern and classy but that alone is not enough reason for any 3D printed product to attract huge droves of buyers.

The use of graphene however assures that every object created will be strong and long lasting. Size is no longer a factor.

Secondly, creating large objects with ABS or PLA can be quite expensive for any person to choose to opt for it. Taking into account the many benefits that Graphene brings to the table, and the possible price you can get it from the market, you’ll find that graphene is the cheaper material.

Thus compared to the current 3D printing materials, Graphene comes along with the advantage of both material strength and economical pricing that simply sets it apart.

Advanced Possible Applications

Other than creating screens, electronics, gas sensors and solar cells; there is a great likelihood that graphene will as well be very instrumental in the fabrication of Military Weaponry. Although, it is still unknown what type of military applications this material can be helpful in, its flexible nature and incredible qualities are likely to present countless opportunities in the military field.

The Medical and Scientific Research Fields are also expected to benefit a lot from 3D printing using Graphene. To say the least, Graphene is an early Christmas present for all 3D enthusiasts.

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