Graphene 3D printing is one of the next frontiers

Graphene has been hailed as a miracle material with the potential to revolutionize 3D printing. Scientists and developers are working on figuring out how to print computers, solar panels, electronics and even cars from graphene. While the realization of many of those visions is still far out in the future, some important breakthroughs have been achieved in recent months.

Graphene has been hailed as a miracle material with the potential to revolutionize 3D printing. It is made from a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice and is deemed the thinnest, strongest and most flexible material in the world. It is also a great conductor of heat and electricity.

These characteristics have ignited the imagination of scientists and developers who are working on figuring out how to print computers, solar panels, electronics and even cars from graphene.

While the realization of many of those visions is still far out in the future, if they are to become true at all, some important breakthroughs have been achieved in recent months. In September, Graphene 3D Lab filed a patent for the first 3D printed battery using graphene and in late October 2014, the husband-and-wife-team that had worked on the technology for five years revealed the first 3D printed battery to the public.


The founders of Graphene 3D Lab took advantage of the fact that graphene in the form of nano platelets can be mixed with thermoplastics commonly used in FFF/FDM 3D printers. The company is working on a nanocomposite filament containing graphene that can be used in a standard 3D printer to make a functioning battery. This would enable pretty much everybody with access to a 3D printer to print their own power source.

So far, only a prototype exists but it can already produce as much power as a common AA battery, which is used in standard devices such as flashlights and toys. The battery can be printed in almost any shape so that it can be integrated in a multitude of different devices. The company wants to start selling graphene-containing filament in early 2015 and hopes to have its first multi-material printers on the market in early 2016.


Graphene 3D Lab also entered an agreement with Missouri-based company taulman3D to collaborate on the development of a graphene-infused nylon material for use within 3D printers. Experts see great potential for this technology for sensors, small devices and embedded electronics, which are expected to become part of the internet of things.

While 3D printed graphene-based batteries have attracted a lot of attention, another scientific breakthrough has caused even more excitement. Researchers led by Professor Seung Kwon Seol from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) have described a process to 3D print pure graphene nanostructures. This is the first time graphene has been printed by itself without mixing it with other materials. The research was published in the journal Advanced Materials, and was titled “3D Printing of Reduced Graphene Oxide Nanowires”. The paper shows that the method works yet some challenges remain. One of them is increasing the yield, another reducing the size of the extruded material to under 10nm.


So far, the recently discovered material graphene hasn’t been available in large quantities. Researchers were only able to produce small batches of the black power with the miracle characteristics. Now, a recently founded company, Cambridge Nanosystems, has secured funding for a new facility that can make up to five tons of the ultra-valuable black dust each year. The facility is expected to open in 2015. Cambridge Nanosystems uses a patented system to turn biogas into graphene. The gas can either come out of a natural gas pipeline or from waste gas.

Once the production is ramped up, Cambridge Nanosystems has plans to be part of the group that develops new applications for the material. 3D printing will play a big role in their efforts. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the company is in talks with some of the leading aerospace and automotive manufacturers about ways to use graphene in composites to make super lightweight, indestructible machines that never rust. Cambridge Nanosystems will supply ideas and develop prototypes but will leave the actual production to others.



  • Marshall Schneider
    14. Januar 2016 11:02

    Great ideas and products produced with graphene will be stifled by the laws and regulations to hinder a free exchange that would produce products with new inventions improved product and reduce decades of development time into a year of study and 1 year production. The 3D printer was exciting until the limits and price per piece forced the momentum to crawl and that creates a problem for the awaiting invention of the finished product machining box that could of been combined with the 3D printer. The 3D printer could of been a free independent machine to give unlimited possibility now its just a magicians party trick

    • Anonymous
      11. Mai 2020 14:09

      Thanks for the helpful information

  • Anonymous
    19. Mai 2020 2:40

    Very great ideas but this inforamation needs to be added.

    Over the years hundreds of houses have been destroyed by planes, building fires, floods, hurricanes or they have fallen over due to the lack of support. Reaching up to 600 Celsius the metals are able to be moulded into a different form causing the building to fall over in the following years. On the 11 September 2001 to airplanes flow into the twin towers killing hundreds or people, as the fire fighters were trying to put it out the building started to fall over due to the hot temperatures on the building. The steel lasted 1 hour and 42 minutes before falling down. Steel has a melting point of 1370-1510 Celsius depending of which steel is used while 3D graphene has a melting point of 4236.85 Celsius. 3D graphene has the highest predicted melting point out of any material.
    A team of Massachusetts institute of technology (MIT) scientist have developed a sponge like 3d version of graphene that only has 5 percent of the density of steel, but is still ten times as strong. The MIT team that discovered the material was Markus Buehler, the head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Gang Seob Jung, a graduate student; and Min Jeong Kang MEng , a recent graduate. The MIT team has concentrated less on the material itself but more on the geometrical configuration. To be able to do this the team had to analyse graphene’s behaviour down to its atomic level. From this the MIT team used the collected data and where able to create a mathematical model that matches the observations of the graphene. The team then used this to create computer models that can limit the load and compressions tests using modified 3D printer.
    The team compressed small flakes of graphene under heat and pressure and they saw the graphene could create strong, stable porous structures that was very similar to coral and had an enormous surface area to volume ratio. The shapes that the two dimensional graphene made allowed the team to form stronger structures in the same way that sheets of paper can be folded and rolled into much stronger forms. These 3D printed models are constructed out of plastic of various configurations very similar to naturally formed graphene, yet it is thousands times larger. The shapes are so complex that printing is the only way to make them. The shapes made were tested for strength and compression, and then were compared to the computer simulations.
    When the graphene was swapped out for polymers or metals similar gains in strength were seen. MIT also discovered that some of the hypothetical designs didn’t work, including a 3D graphene structure lighter than air and it could float like a helium balloon. The models the team designed showed that the 3D graphene structure that was lighter than air would collapse under normal atmospheric pressure. The technology which was used to create 3D graphene could be applied to other materials ranging from polymers to structural concrete and would produce structures that are stronger and lighter. Therefore the 3D graphene that the MIT team produced is a better building material.
    Graphene has emerged as one of the most promising nanomaterials because of its unique combination superb properties. Graphene is one of the thinnest materials but yet it is the strongest material. This material can conduct heat better than any other material there is. It’s a great conductor of electricity. It is optically transparent, yet so dense that it is impermeable to gases not even helium could get through, the smallest gas atom couldn’t pass through . Tests showed that graphene in a 3D form can achieve a density of five percent of steel, yet it is ten times the strength. Researchers found that much of this had more to so with the geometrical configuration then the material itself.

    • Christiane Hermann
      2. Juli 2020 14:44

      Thanks for the extensive additions.

Leave A Comment