Mar 31, 2016 | By Alec

It looks like the industrial material specialists are also increasingly waking up to the potential of the 3D printing industry. Versarien PLC, a UK advanced materials developer, now evidently recognizes 3D printing as a viable option for the commercial application of the ‘Holy Grail’ of advanced materials, graphene. To realize its potential, they have teamed up with British hotend specialist E3D, to begin graphene 3D printing trials and explore options for taking this material out of laboratories and into the real world.

With this collaboration, Versarien is thus evidently heading straight for the biggest prize in material 3D printing. For those of you unfamiliar with graphene, it is essentially a form of carbon, just like diamonds or the lead in pencils. Unlike most forms of carbon, it isn’t a type of 3D shape, but is instead a 2D material that consists of a hexagonal sheet only a single atom thick. But its properties are what makes this one of the most coveted materials in 3D printing. Not only is it very light and flexible, it is also extremely durable (about a hundred times stronger than steel) while being a very efficient conductor of heat and electricity. Its theoretical existence has been discussed for decades, but it was only first successfully produced in 2004, and has been very interesting to manufacturers since then.

It could obviously add a lot of potential to high-end 3D printing applications, and therefore several research initiatives are already developing practical graphene 3D printing solutions. About a year ago, a team of material specialists from the Imperial College in London already proved that graphene can be 3D printed. The question now is: do those amazing properties add more to 3D printing applications? Versarien and E3D Online Ltd will now be looking to find an answer and take that technology out of the laboratories. “This is one of a number of graphene applications we are investigating and is an example of graphene moving from the lab to the real world,” said Versarien’s chief executive Neil Ricketts.

And they certainly have the know-how to succeed. Versarien PLC is a material expert that specializes in applying proprietary technology on innovative game-changing engineering solutions, for a variety of sectors. E3D Online, of course, is one of the leading developers of hotends. Together, they will work to find out if 3D printed parts can indeed benefit from the exceptional properties of graphene, provided by Versarien’s 2D-Tech subsidiary. “We are always looking for new and innovative applications for our graphene technology and we look forward to collaborating with E3D Online Ltd in progressing this potential use for graphene in 3D printed products,” Ricketts said of the collaboration.

Sanjay Mortimer, E3D’s director of research and development, also said that this is a perfect opportunity to push the boundaries of 3D printing. “Working with Versarien to incorporate graphene into 3D printed parts is extremely exciting and we look forward to creating enhanced materials with advanced properties that would not be possible without this collaboration,” he said. No timeframe for expected results has been revealed yet.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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