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3-D Printing Silver Nanoparticles is on the Horizon -

  • 3 D Printing in Mid-Air Allows Intricate Designs from Silver Ink

     Oh, the Possibilities!




    Using an ink composed of silver nanoparticles, researchers at Harvard University are producing intricate shapes suspended in the air without the need for any support or armature.

    This method, using 3D printers, will allow scientists to make flexible products such as wearable electronics, sensors, antennas and medical devices that can be narrower than a human hair and completed in a matter of seconds.

    “I am truly excited by this latest advance from our
    lab, which allows one to 3D print and anneal flexible metal electrodes and complex architectures ‘on-the- fly,’” said Jennifer Lewis, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard.

    The nanosilver ink is ejected through a printing nozzle at exactly the right amount and period of time so that it solidifies without dripping or sagging. The process is controlled by a laser that manages the heating of

    the shape being produced so that it will anneal on
    cue. The challenge, researchers said, was to find the correct nozzle-to-laser separation distance. When the laser got too close to the nozzle, the ink got clogged. When it was too far, the shape didn’t dry fast enough to maintain the desired shape.

    “This sophisticated use of laser technology to enhance 3D printing capabilities not only inspires new kinds of products, it moves the frontier of solid free-
    form fabrication into an exciting new realm. This demonstrates once again that previously accepted design limitations can be overcome by innovation,” said Wyss Institute Director Donald Ingber, in a prepared statement.


    From the Silver Institute