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Researchers print, tune graphene sensors to monitor food freshness, safety

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, June 26, 2020
Researchers dipped their new, printed sensors into tuna broth and watched the readings. It turned out the sensors – printed with high-resolution aerosol jet printers on a flexible polymer film and tuned to test for histamine, an allergen and indicator of spoiled fish and meat – can detect histamine down to 3.41 parts per million.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set histamine guidelines of 50 parts per million in fish, making the sensors more than sensitive enough to track food freshness and safety.

Making the sensor technology possible is graphene, a supermaterial that’s a carbon honeycomb just an atom thick and known for its strength, electrical conductivity, flexibility and biocompatibility. Making graphene practical on a disposable food-safety sensor is a low-cost, aerosol-jet-printing technology that’s precise enough to create the high-resolution electrodes necessary for electrochemical sensors to detect small molecules such as histamine.

“This fine resolution is important,” said Jonathan Claussen, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University and one of the leaders of the research project. “The closer we can print these electrode fingers, in general, the higher the sensitivity of these biosensors.”

Claussen and the other project leaders – Carmen Gomes, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State; and Mark Hersam, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois – have recently reported their sensor discovery in a paper published online by the journal 2D Materials. (See sidebar for a full listing of co-authors.)

The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have supported the project.

The paper describes how graphene electrodes were aerosol jet printed on a flexible polymer and then converted to histamine sensors by chemically binding histamine antibodies to the graphene. The antibodies specifically bind histamine molecules.

The histamine blocks electron transfer and increases electrical resistance, Gomes said. That change in resistance can be measured and recorded by the sensor.

“This histamine sensor is not only for fish,” Gomes said. “Bacteria in food produce histamine. So it can be a good indicator of the shelf life of food.”

The researchers believe the concept will work to detect other kinds of molecules, too.

“Beyond the histamine case study presented here, the (aerosol jet printing) and functionalization process can likely be generalized to a diverse range of sensing applications including environmental toxin detection, foodborne pathogen detection, wearable health monitoring, and health diagnostics,” they wrote in their research paper.

For example, by switching the antibodies bonded to the printed sensors, they could detect salmonella bacteria, or cancers or animal diseases such as avian influenza, the researchers wrote.

Claussen, Hersam and other collaborators (see sidebar) have demonstrated broader application of the technology by modifying the aerosol-jet-printed sensors to detect cytokines, or markers of inflammation. The sensors, as reported in a recent paper published by ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, can monitor immune system function in cattle and detect deadly and contagious paratuberculosis at early stages.

Claussen, who has been working with printed graphene for years, said the sensors have another characteristic that makes them very useful: They don’t cost a lot of money and can be scaled up for mass production.

“Any food sensor has to be really cheap,” Gomes said. “You have to test a lot of food samples and you can’t add a lot of cost.”

Claussen and Gomes know something about the food industry and how it tests for food safety. Claussen is chief scientific officer and Gomes is chief research officer for NanoSpy Inc., a startup company based in the Iowa State University Research Park that sells biosensors to food processing companies.

They said the company is in the process of licensing this new histamine and cytokine sensor technology.

It, after all, is what they’re looking for in a commercial sensor. “This,” Claussen said, “is a cheap, scalable, biosensor platform.”

Tags:  3D Printing  Biosensor  Carmen Gomes  Graphene  Iowa State University  Jonathan Claussen  Mark Hersam  Northwestern University  Sensors 

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ZEN Graphene Solutions Announces Collaboration with UBC-O on Department of National Defence Project

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, June 9, 2020
ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. is pleased to announce it will be commencing a new research collaboration with Prof. Mohammad Arjmand and his team at the University of British Columbia (UBC)‐Okanagan Campus, with a $200,000 Department of National Defence (DND) Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) award. ZEN will be providing in-kind contributions of Albany PureTM materials and consultation with its technical team.

The goal of this collaborative research project is to develop electrically conductive, molded and 3D printed graphene/polymer nanocomposites as more versatile replacements for metallic electromagnetic shields that are currently in use. The new shields will be lightweight and corrosion resistant along with the additional benefits of low cost, ease of processing and improved design options compared to current metallic shields. In this collaboration, the developed conductive polymer shields will protect sensitive electronic equipment in satellites; however, the shields will also have use in a broad spectrum of applications in various industries, such as information technology, medical sciences, automotive, defence, and aerospace. The technology of developing 3D printing multifunctional polymer nanocomposite filaments will also allow for the rapid, low-cost fabrication of complex geometries of multifunctional polymer nanocomposites such as artificial electromagnetic shields. If DND elects to advance the project to Phase 2, it will support the research with a $1 million grant.

ZEN would also like to congratulate Prof. Arjmand and his Nanomaterials and Polymer Nanocomposites Laboratory (NPNL) for being awarded two additional grants. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) awarded a grant of $320,000 that will allow him to acquire the necessary equipment for the synthesis and characterization of graphene and its polymer nanocomposites. Prof. Arjmand was also awarded an additional $101,224 from the NSERC Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) Grant Program with support from the UBC School of Engineering. These funds will be used to purchase a state-of-the-art extruder to develop polymer nanocomposite filaments and pellets. All this equipment will be used to synthesize and characterize graphene materials from ZEN’s Albany PureTM Graphite and develop novel graphene-based polymer composites.

Francis Dubé, ZEN CEO commented, “We are happy to see the Department of National Defence investing in graphene-based technologies with the UBCO team led by Prof. Arjmand and ZEN. We are also pleased that Prof. Arjmand and his NPNL center have been recognized with the additional funding from CFI, BCKDF and NSERC. These equipment purchases will help drive graphene innovation in polymers for ZEN.”

Prof. Arjmand stated, “Our expertise in the synthesis of graphene, polymer processing, 3D printing, and polymer nanocomposites allows us to develop the next generation of high-performance multifunctional polymer nanocomposites with unique properties and complex geometries. We look forward to continuing to work with ZEN Graphene to bring these next generation products to market.”

Tags:  3D Printing  Francis Dubé  Graphene  Mohammad Arjmand  nanocomposites  polymers  University of British Columbia  ZEN Graphene Solutions 

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3D printed tissue-like vascular structures investigated on Larmor

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, April 24, 2020
An international team of scientists have discovered a new material that can be 3D printed to create tissue-like vascular structures.

Material platforms that exploit the functionalities of both proteins and graphene oxide offer exciting possibilities for the engineering of advanced materials. This study introduces a method to 3D print graphene oxide with a protein that can organise into tubular structures that replicate some properties of vascular tissue.

Self-assembly is the process by which multiple components can organise into larger well-defined structures. Biological systems rely on this process to controllably assemble molecular building-blocks into complex and functional materials exhibiting remarkable properties such as the capacity to grow, replicate, and perform robust functions.

Including graphene as a building-block could lead to the design of new biomaterials that benefit from its distinctive electronic, thermal, and mechanical properties. Graphene oxide is also gaining significant interest as a starting material; being used instead of graphene because its rich oxygen-containing functional groups can facilitate specific interactions with different molecules.

In this study, published in Nature Communications, a new biomaterial is made by the self-assembly of a protein with graphene oxide. The mechanism of assembly enables the flexible (disordered) regions of the protein to order and conform to the graphene oxide, generating a strong interaction between them. By controlling the way in which the two components are mixed, it is possible to guide their assembly at multiple size scales in the presence of cells and into complex robust structures.

"This work offers opportunities in biofabrication by enabling simultaneous top-down 3D bioprinting and bottom-up self-assembly of synthetic and biological components in an orderly manner from the nanoscale," explains researcher Professor Alvaro Mata; “Here, we are biofabricating micro-scale capillary-like fluidic structures that are compatible with cells, exhibit physiologically relevant properties, and have the capacity to withstand flow. This could enable the recreation of vasculature in the lab and have implications in the development of safer and more efficient drugs, meaning treatments could potentially reach patients much more quickly."

By using Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) on Larmor alongside simulations and other experimental techniques, the group was able to describe the key steps of the underlying molecular mechanism. In particular, SANS facilitated the understanding of the unique protein-graphene oxide organization and establishment of the rules for turning these interactions into a supramolecular fabrication process.

The system they produced showed remarkable stability, robust assembly, biocompatibility, and bioactivity. These properties enable its integration with rapid-prototyping techniques to bio-fabricate functional microfluidic devices by directed self-assembly, opening new opportunities for engineering more complex and biologically relevant tissue engineered scaffolds, microfluidic systems, or organ-on-a-chip devices.

Tags:  3D Printing  Alvaro Mata  Biomaterials  Graphene  graphene oxide  Healthcare 

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Biomaterial discovery enables 3D printing of tissue-like vascular structures

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, March 7, 2020
An international team of scientists have discovered a new material that can be 3D printed to create tissue-like vascular structures.

In a new study published today in Nature Communications, led by Professor Alvaro Mata at the University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University London, researchers have developed a way to 3D print graphene oxide with a protein which can organise into tubular structures that replicate some properties of vascular tissue.

Professor Mata said: “This work offers opportunities in biofabrication by enabling simulatenous top-down 3D bioprinting and bottom-up self-assembly of synthetic and biological components in an orderly manner from the nanoscale. Here, we are biofabricating micro-scale capillary-like fluidic structures that are compatible with cells, exhibit physiologically relevant properties, and have the capacity to withstand flow."

This could enable the recreation of vasculature in the lab and have implications in the development of safer and more efficient drugs, meaning treatments could potentially reach patients much more quickly, Professor Alvaro Mata.

Material with remarkable properties

Self-assembly is the process by which multiple components can organise into larger well-defined structures. Biological systems rely on this process to controllably assemble molecular building-blocks into complex and functional materials exhibiting remarkable properties such as the capacity to grow, replicate, and perform robust functions. 

The new biomaterial is made by the self-assembly of a protein with graphene oxide. The mechanism of assembly enables the flexible (disordered) regions of the protein to order and conform to the graphene oxide, generating a strong interaction between them. By controlling the way in which the two components are mixed, it is possible to guide their assembly at multiple size scales in the presence of cells and into complex robust structures.

The material can then be used as a 3D printing bioink to print structures with intricate geometries and resolutions down to 10 mm. The research team have demonstrated the capacity to build vascular-like structures in the presence of cells and exhibiting biologically relevant chemical and mechanical properties.

Dr. Yuanhao Wu is the lead researcher on the project, she said: “There is a great interest to develop materials and fabrication processes that emulate those from nature. However, the ability to build robust functional materials and devices through the self-assembly of molecular components has until now been limited. This research introduces a new method to integrate proteins with graphene oxide by self-assembly in a way that can be easily integrated with additive manufacturing to easily fabricate biofluidic devices that allow us replicate key parts of human tissues and organs in the lab.”

Close-up of a tubular structure made by simultaneous printing and self-assembling between graphene oxide and a protein.

Cross-section of a bioprinted tubular structure with endothelial cells (green) on and embedded within the wall.

Confocal microscopy image depicting junctions between endothelial cells (green) growing within the printed tubular structures.

Scanning electron microscopy image depicting endothelial cells growing on the surface of the printed tubular structures.

Tags:  3D Printing  Alvaro Mata  biofabricating  biomaterials  Graphene  Graphene Oxide  Queen Mary University London  University of Nottingham  Yuanhao Wu 

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XG Sciences and Terrafilum Enter Joint Development Agreement to Produce Graphene Enhanced 3D Printing Filament

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, October 29, 2019
XG Sciences, Inc. a market leader in the design and manufacture of graphene nanoplatelets and advanced materials containing graphene nanoplatelets, and Terrafilum®, an eco-friendly, high quality filament producer for the 3D printing industry, today announced a joint venture agreement to develop, produce and market 3D printing filaments and coatings using graphene-based materials.
 
First isolated and characterized in 2004, graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms configured in an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice. Among many noted properties, monolayer graphene is harder than diamonds, lighter than steel but significantly stronger, and conducts electricity better than copper. Graphene nanoplatelets are particles consisting of multiple layers of graphene. 

Graphene nanoplatelets have unique capabilities for energy storage, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, barrier properties, lubricity and the ability to impart physical property improvements when incorporated into plastics, metals or other matrices.

Chris Jackson, President of Terrafilum, points out, “The full potential for 3D printing is starting to be unlocked. The addition of XG’s graphene formulations into our eco-friendly filaments will transform products allowing a greater variety of parts to be created at faster production rates using less energy.”

3D printing has been great for prototyping and limited run production parts, but companies have been challenged to move into high volume production due to material limitations such as direction specific structural weaknesses, a lack of conductivity, a sparse selection of ESD robust filaments, an overall lack of part performance and slow production times.
 
Graphene-enhanced filaments help solve product related problems, historically associated with FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printing, by enhancing z-direction strength, providing more ESD robust parts and creating overall lighter parts in less time. 
 
“Marrying together well-established 3D printing technologies with our graphene-enhanced formulations makes the material difference in resolving the two most limiting factors in 3D printed parts, product strength and processing speeds,” said Dr. Leroy Magwood, Chief Technologist for XG Sciences.

Tags:  3D Printing  Chris Jackson  coatings  Graphene  Leroy Magwood  Terrafilum  XG Sciences 

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Graphmatech’s Latest Invention Brings Metal Additive Manufacturing to the Next Level

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, September 26, 2019
Additive manufacturing (AM) or “3D-printing” is a manufacturing technology which allows the formation of complex geometries under computer control. Flowability of metal powder is among the challenges in metals AM industry. Graphmatech, a Swedish graphene materials technology scaleup company focuses on solving industrial challenges with graphene technology, have breaking news to share. Graphmatech scientists recently achieved remarkable improvement in the flowability of metal powders. This is another milestone in the success story of Graphmatech AB (founded 2017) that began with the patented technology and material Aros Graphene®. Strategic collaborations with Swedish, Swiss and German key industries, lead to that Graphmatech was appointed the “Nanotech company of the year in the Nordics” in 2018.

The latest story, on 3D printing enhancements, is best told by Dr. Mamoun Taher, the CEO, and co-founder of Graphmatech:

”Being a CEO of the fast-growing Graphmatech has never stopped me from being at the lab doing innovative and outside of the box experiments. One late afternoon, I went to the lab with an intention to investigate the influence of a graphene-based material on the magnetic properties of metal powders. Unexpected behavior of metal powder was observed after treatment with the graphene-based additive. The dreams about the observations woke me up very early the next morning and made me drive to Uppsala University to microscopically investigate the results from last night.

The results were immediately discussed with our collaborator at Uppsala University, Prof. Ulf Jansson, a Chair Professor, Inorganic Chemistry program leader and the leader for Additive Manufacturing Program at Uppsala University in Sweden.”

”When I saw the samples and results I immediately told Dr. Taher that this has the potential to solve a major challenge in metal powder industry and mainly for metal additive manufacturing. And this then turned out to be right! The newly found multifunctionality of the graphene-based additive allows the simultaneous addressing of different challenges in metal powder industry, and we are eager to continue our research” Says Prof. Ulf Jansson.

Further research and development have been carried out between Graphmatech and the group of Prof. Jansson to optimize and develop an eco-friendly, cost-efficient and scaleable process for treating metal powder with graphene-based materials for additive manufacturing and powder metallurgy.

Graphmatech was founded by material scientist Dr. Mamoun Taher and the serial entrepreneur Björn Lindh. The major investors of the company are ABB Technology Venture, InnoEnergy and the well-known business angel Jane Walerud.

Tags:  3D Printing  Björn Lindh  Graphene  Graphmatech  InnoEnergy  Jane Walerud  Mamoun Taher  Ulf Jansson  Uppsala University 

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Using 3-D Printed Mother-of-Pearl to Create Tough New Smart Materials

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, August 12, 2019

The silvery shine of mother-of-pearl has long been prized for jewelry and decorative arts. But the interior of mollusk shells, also known as nacre, is more than just a pretty face. It is actually one of the most robust materials in the natural world. You can drive over nacre with a truck, and while the mollusk shell might crack under the weight, the shiny interior will stay intact.



Professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Yong Chen and his team have created a new 3-D-printed replica of this natural super-material, which will have important new applications in responsive smart materials and safety devices, such as helmets and armor for sports or military, as well as smart wearable technology, biomedical devices and more.

The work, which was recently published in Science Advances, also represents the first time that electrical fields were used in 3-D printing to form the material, meaning the finished product has strong electrical conductivity. This makes it ideal for smart products.

Chen and postdoctoral researcher Yang Yang worked on the paper with co-authors Qiming Wang, Assistant Professor in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Qifa Zhou, Professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering and others.

Chen said that in nature, the main purpose of a material like nacre is to protect a delicate, soft-bodied creature inside the shell.

“Nacre is strong because it stacks microscale and nanoscale components together in a brick-like structure and uses soft material to bind them together.”

Chen said the result was a very lightweight, robust material that was also far more responsive to pressure and loading compared with more rigid materials like ceramic and glass.

“Even very strong glass can be easy to crack when you drop it. Microcracks on the surface of these materials can quickly propagate all the way through it, whereas nacre combines soft and hard material in an intelligent way,” Chen said.

He said that when microcracks form in nacre, the soft material binding the nacre together works to deflect the force of impact and prevent cracks from propagating into more serious damage.

“The main motivation for this research was to see whether we could 3-D print any shape at a microscale, using the architecture of nacre combining both hard and soft materials, to achieve a much tougher structure.”

Replicating nacre with graphene and polymer
To do this, the team used a novel method to build synthetic nacre at a microscale using graphene powder as a building block. The researchers ran an electrical charge of around 1,000 volts through the graphene.

“Originally we had this randomly distributed graphene,” Chen said. “When you add it to the electrical field, these random grains of graphene are aligned parallel to each other.”

“Then we cure the material and finalize the layer. We then stack layer after layer on top so that it is similar in microstructure to nacre,” Chen said.

“We create a composite with polymer, which serves as the soft material inside and between the graphene.”

Chen said that previously nacre-like materials were formed using different approaches, such as magnetic fields to align the particles. After fabrication, the research team conducted material testing that showed the electrically-aligned product was lightweight with strong engineering properties.

He said that while naturally-formed nacre doesn’t conduct electricity, the 3-D printed bioinspired version can. As such, if it were used to fabricate protective material such as helmets or armor, the synthetic nacre can act as a sensor that alerts the wearer of any structural weaknesses before it fails.

The team tested the material by creating a small scale model of a smart helmet. The helmet functioned as a sensor connected to a LED light. When enough pressure was put on the helmet, the LED would be activated, indicating the material was under stress.

“Using the electrical-aligned approach leads to better alignment of the particles. It also means we can work with particles that react to an electrical field. When you use a magnetic field, then you can only work with a particle that reacts to that.”

Chen said that for the next stage of the research, the team would be investigating the new material’s capacity for thermal conductivity, in addition to its mechanical strength and ability to conduct electricity.

Tags:  3D Printing  Graphene  polymers  Qifa Zhou  USC Viterbi School of Engineering  Yong Chen 

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3D printable 2D materials based inks show promise to improve energy storage devices

Posted By Graphene Council, Sunday, August 11, 2019
Updated: Sunday, August 4, 2019
For the first time, a team of researchers, from the School of Materials and the National Graphene Institute at The the University of Manchester have formulated inks using the 2D material MXene, to produce 3D printed interdigitated electrodes.

As published in Advanced Materials, these inks have been used to 3D print electrodes that can be used in energy storages devices such as supercapacitors.

MXene, a ‘clay-like’ two-dimensional material composed of early transition metals (such as titanium) and carbon atoms, was first developed by Drexel University. However, unlike most clays, MXene shows high electrical conductivity upon drying and is hydrophilic, allowing them to be easily dispersed in aqueous suspensions and inks.

Graphene was the world’s first two-dimensional material, more conductive than copper, many more times stronger than steel, flexible, transparent and one million times thinner than the diameter of a human hair.

Since its isolation, graphene has opened the doors for the exploration of other two-dimensional materials, each with a range of different properties. However, in order to make use of these unique properties, 2D materials need to be efficiently integrated into devices and structures. The manufacturing approach and materials formulations are essential to realise this.

Dr Suelen Barg who led the team said: “We demonstrate that large MXene flakes spanning a few atoms thick, and water can be independently used to formulate inks with very specific viscoelastic behaviour for printing. These inks can be directly 3D printed into freestanding architectures over 20 layers tall. Due to the excellent electrical conductivity of MXene, we can employ our inks to directly 3D print current collector-free supercapacitors. The unique rheological properties combined with the sustainability of the approach open many opportunities to explore, especially in energy storage and applications requiring the functional properties of 2D MXene in customized 3D architectures.”

Wenji and Jae, PhD students at the Nano3D Lab at the University, said: “Additive manufacturing offers one possible method of building customised, multi-materials energy devices, demonstrating the capability to capture MXene’s potential for usage in energy applications. We hope this research will open avenues to fully unlock the potential of MXene for use in this field.”

The unique rheological properties combined with the sustainability of the approach open many opportunities to explore, especially in energy storage and applications requiring the functional properties of 2D MXene in customized 3D architectures. Dr Suelen Barg, School of Materials

The performance and application of these devices increasingly rely on the development and scalable manufacturing of innovative materials in order to enhance their performance.

Supercapacitors are devices that are able to produce massive amounts of power while using much less energy than conventional devices. There has been much work carried out on the use of 2D materials in these types of devices due to their excellent conductivity as well as having the potential to reduce the weight of the device.

Potential uses for these devices are for the automotive industry, such as in electric cars as well as for mobile phones and other electronics.

Tags:  2D materials  3D Printing  Drexel University  Graphene  Suelen Barg  Supercapacito  University of Manchester 

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Additive Manufacturing & 3D Printing with Graphene

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, January 20, 2017

 

3d printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), represents significant potential for the use of graphene material as an additive to the fast growing range of printable materials. This is increasingly true as there is a clear shift towards producing functional parts for industrial end use, including aerospace and automotive applications. 

Despite being a relatively low volume market at the moment, AM has several useful properties than make it an attractive market to a graphene producer as well as to end users. The AM market has a strong appetite to test new materials and to identify innovative applications not just in the AM processes, but in the characteristics of the materials that are used. Rapid process and testing times for new products mean that there is also a low barrier to entry compared to supplying nano-enhanced materials in other manufacturing industries. 

Because traditional AM materials are often quite expensive on their own, adding a relatively expensive material like graphene has less of an impact on the final costs than it might in some other large scale commercial applications. 

One of the advantages of AM is the ability to make one-off or specialty parts with no loss in production speed. Parts are also essentially the same price regardless of whether you print a few or a few thousand pieces. 

Although there are a large number of different AM technologies, there are really just three formats of material, (powders, liquids and filaments) and there are three main classes of material (metals, plastics and ceramics). Graphene has the potential to add desirable characteristics across many of these technologies, formats and material classes. 

One of the most important materials in use with AM today is polymers. There is significant scope for graphene to gain traction and market share here as an additive, primarily due to the ease of processing graphene into polymers. Common thermoplastics used in sintering and extrusion AM techniques include  ABS, PLA, nylons (6 and 12), TPU, PET and HIPS. Thermosets such as epoxy and acrylics are also popular in UV cured AM applications. Despite the relatively difficult processing challenges for metals and ceramics, there is potential for graphene to also add value across those technologies.

Graphene has the ability to provide improvements to conventional AM materials and in some case, these material improvements are unique to graphene. In particular, graphene can have an impact on;


• Much lower solids content 
• Shift material into a printability window 
• Improve HDT and shrinkage 
• Mechanical reinforcement where certain macro additives can’t be used
• Significant multi-functionality (5+ uplifts with one additive) 

 

Essentially graphene is adding benefits to or improving on the performance of a given consumable as well as mitigating or reducing the negatives. Multifunctionality is also important; gaining multiple beneficial properties without resorting to using several additives that might be incompatible with each other and doing so with a low addition rate lowers the risk of adding negative performance into a polymer, such as lower processability or brittleness. 

3D Printing and AM is just another of the many areas where graphene is proving worthy of a much closer look by materials scientists, product designers, engineers and production specialist across a broad range of industries. 

 

Want to learn more? 

 

Join an in-depth Webinar on Graphene and 3D Printing

Tags:  3D Printing  Additive Manufacturing 

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Graphene Commercialization is closer than you think.

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, October 21, 2016

When we conducted our survey of more than 400 graphene researchers, developers, producers and users earlier this year, less than 10% thought that graphene was a sustainable commercial market today. However, almost 2/3’s felt that graphene would develop into a sustainable commercial market in 6 years or less. (Survey 2016)

 

Based on the feedback and discussions at the Graphene Canada 2016 conference held in Montreal recently, graphene commercialization is a lot closer than most people are aware. 

 

Because graphene has properties that can be applied to such a wide range of potential applications, it is not always easy to see where this material is already being used or where development is most advanced. 

 

A graphene “killer application”?

 

There has been a lot of hype around graphene because of its superlative properties and the promise it holds for radical or revolutionary new applications, products and solutions.

 

There has been an equal measure of disappointment that it has not yet produced a “killer application”, a solution that solves a major problem that is possible because of graphene’s unique properties. 

 

The less sexy, but much more likely path to successful commercialization of graphene, lies in its use in more traditional materials like composites, thermosets (such as epoxies, polyurethane and polyester) and plastics. 

 

For example, Huntsman Advanced Materials (a division of the Huntsman Corporation, a publicly traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals with $10 billion in revenues) is working with graphene specialist firm Haydale to develop graphene enhanced ARALDITE® resins for composite applications. These products are used in the industrial composites, automotive and aerospace markets.

 

 

Huntsman's ARALDITE® resins are being enhanced using Haydale’s expertise in functionalisation of Graphene Nano Platelets (GNP’S) and other nano materials to create highly loaded master batches and to improve thermal / electrical conductivity and mechanical performance. The ultimate objective of the collaboration will be to commercialise graphene enhanced ARALDITE® resins for a range of applications in the

composites market.

 

It is telling that Huntsman, a company whose chemical products number in the thousands and are sold worldwide, has identified graphene as a critical new additive to enhance one of their most important industrial products. 

 

The global polymer market alone is worth at least $658 billion. Even if only a small percentage of this market begins using graphene as a standard additive to improve product performance, it will help support a viable market for graphene producers and formulators. 

 

Better Together

 

Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing, is a relatively new and exciting area of activity that is revolutionizing how objects are designed, prototyped and made. It is also a perfect example of how graphene can be used in combination with other traditional materials to create new capabilities and products. 

 

There are already three companies that offer graphene impregnated 3D printing filaments (Haydale, Graphene 3d Labs and Directa Plus) that are in turn letting creative designers develop products that are electrically conductive or that have superior physical properties (stronger, scratch resistant, better UV protections, etc.). 

 

Graphene is added to traditional polymers, paints and coatings to change their performance characteristics. Another company, NanoXplore is producing products as far ranging as specialty paints to fishing buoys (floats that are used in conjunction with fishing nets, crab pots, and related applications) that use graphene to make these products more robust and survivable in very harsh marine environments. 

 

 

What is unique about graphene is that it can make a significant improvement with very small loadings (as little as 1% or less) as compared to competing materials that may require as much as 25-30% loads to make significant performance differences. 

 

What this means is that although graphene materials are currently quite expensive per gram or kilogram, the very low loading levels makes graphene a competitive additive on a cost / benefit basis. 

 

The Future

 

It is difficult to overstate the enormous potential graphene holds to impact an almost unlimited range of industrial sectors, from water treatment to aerospace, from opto-electrical sensors to energy storage, from bio-medical applications to basic materials. 

 

So while university scientists and corporate research and development departments around the world continue to work on the more complicated problems where graphene might disrupt industries like semi-conductors or new generation photocells, graphene is proving its worth in somewhat mundane but equally important industrial materials applications. 

 

Tags:  3D Printing  Commercialization  Directa Plus  Fullerex  Graphene 3d Labs  Haydale  Huntsman  NanoXplore  Paints 

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