Researchers use 3-D printing to create structure with active chemistry

April 1, 2016, American University

Many materials - sugars, thermoplastics, glass, metals, ceramics and more—are used to produce 3D-printed figures, typically with expensive or custom-built 3D printers.

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated how to use commercial 3D printers to create a structure with active chemistry. Led by Matthew Hartings, American University chemistry professor, researchers created a chemically active 3D-printed structure that acts to mitigate pollution. A study outlining the process published online today in Science and Technology of Advanced Materials.

And it's OK to try this at home. The experiment, created with many off-the-shelf materials common to makers, hobbyists and home enthusiasts, puts the power of chemistry invention into the hands of people taking advantage of the 3D printing revolution.

The researchers designed a small structure the size of handheld sponge. They dispersed throughout plastic chemically active titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles. Using the same filament hobbyists use in the printing process of 3D-printed figures, researchers added the nanoparticles. Using a 3D thermoplastic printer, ubiquitous in manufacturing, the researchers printed a small, sponge-like plastic matrix.

Researchers had two questions: Would the nanoparticles stay active in the structure once printed? Created for pollution mitigation, would the matrix perform? The answers were yes.

Pollutants break down when natural light interacts with TiO2, which has potential applications in the removal of pollution from air, water and agricultural sources.

To demonstrate pollution mitigation, they placed the matrix in water and added an organic molecule (pollutant). The pollutant was destroyed. TiO2 also photocatalyzed the degradation of a rhodamine 6G in solution.

"It's not just pollution, but there are all sorts of other chemical processes that people may be interested in. There are a variety of nanoparticles one could add to a polymer to print," Hartings said.

One limitation of the research is that for the structure to print, the concentration of needed to be less than 10 percent of total mass of the structure. To have an efficient structure, a higher concentration could be needed, but depending on the need, 10 percent might be OK, Hartings said.

The structure printed for this study was a simple shape. Harnessing the power of 3D-printing, the researchers' next step will be to print many exotic shapes to understand how printed structure affects the chemical reactivity.

Because of the promising results, they've already started experimenting with different printed geometries to determine an optimal printed shape for applications that involve photocatalytic removal of environmental pollutants.

Explore further: Molten glass 3-D printer produces optically transparent glass

More information: Science and Technology of Advanced Materials Volume 17, Issue 1, 2016. DOI: 10.1080/14686996.2016.1152879

Related Stories

Molten glass 3-D printer produces optically transparent glass

August 25, 2015

A new additive manufacturing technique uses an innovative process for printing molten glass at sufficiently high temperatures, layering it to produce strong 3D-printed glass objects able to transmit light. The modular, scalable ...

We could 3D print buildings using robots and drones

February 16, 2016

These days, 3D printing is never far from the public eye. Its vast and imaginative array of applications is constantly growing, from life-saving medical implants to life-ending firearms. Now, architects and structural engineers ...

It's a 3D printer, but not as we know it

January 19, 2016

3D printing techniques have quickly become some of the most widely used tools to rapidly design and build new components. A team of engineers at the University of Bristol has developed a new type of 3D printing that can print ...

Boeing eyes 3D printing objects levitating in space

February 28, 2016

Has Boeing been exploring the printing of 3D printing of levitating objects? Yes, Boeing has patented technology to 3D print objects while levitating in space. PatentYogi has presented a video that explains what Boeing had ...

Solid Concepts 3D prints world's first metal gun (w/ Video)

November 8, 2013

(Phys.org) —3D printing company Solid Concepts has announced that it has 3D printed the world's first metal gun—other guns printed using 3D printers have been made of plastic. Representatives for Solid Concepts say they ...

Recommended for you

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.