May 20, 2016 | By Andre

If you want to win all the points in the competition for most future hyped technology you don’t need to go much further than bringing up 3D printing, miracle material graphene, nano-technology and space explortion. Over the course of the last few years, they’ve all had their time in the spotlight as the next big thing. And while aspects of these avenues of innovation continue to wow, its rare to see a marriage between them like what researchers at the University of Maryland are aiming for.

The research in question involves an attempt to provide a very focused heating element targeted toward microscopic environments. In essence, the task at hand is to create a high temperature resistent heating element formed by a 3D printer so as to manufacture a very tiny little furnace.

Yonggang Yao, a graduate student working on the project tells Nanowerk that, “When electrical current is applied to this heater, it can generate high temperature (~3,000 K) with exceptional fast rate (in less than 100 millisecond, an estimated heating rate ~20,000 K/s) and superior stability (>2,000 cycles, with continuous high temperature lasting for more than a day without noticeable decay).”

While that may be latin to some, it’s this focused ability to deposit graphene oxide ink in a controlled manner down to about 200 micron in size that provides the potential for a sustained heat source that can be ramped up and down in custom 3D shapes that would have been impossible with traditional furnace, laser, and inferred heating technology.

Yao continues by saying that “no metal or ceramic based furnaces/heaters can reach such a high temperature since most metals melt and ceramics decompose at such high temperature.”

The secret is in the graphene oxide flakes that can hold the heat, and the precision placement of the nano-level 3D printing tech (with the assistance of a vacuum environment). So why would you be so inclined to design a heating mechanism on such a scale at all? Space, another future looking frontier, might hold the answer.

Having a very small precision based heater might be useful for high temperature welding or thermal treatment of spacecraft of space station repair situations where traditionally bulky heating technologies would be difficult or cumbersome to work with.

Of course, just like every new limit-pushing technology, things aren’t always as easy as one would hope for. With an ultimate goal of producing the heating elements on the nano-scale (currently the team has demonstrated results on the micron-level) there are many challenges still to overcome.

Yao admits that “so far, this has been a challenge for us, which requires us to learn more about the graphene oxide inks and designing new 3D printers. In addition, we hope to increase the temperature from 3,000K to even higher temperature that can be potentially used to explore the unknown properties of materials in such extreme high temperature environment."

While the formal research paper is under lock and key to those without access to academic journals, the team has released the below video that demonstrates the heating element being produced by their small-scale graphene depositing 3D printing technology that may one day be used to to further humankind’s exploration into the cosmos. What a time to be alive.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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arsdmthe wrote at 5/28/2016 12:49:06 PM:

with this furnace a fff 3d pri,ter in tungsten to print up to carbon

jos hoebe wrote at 5/21/2016 11:13:43 AM:

probably also as filament in bulbs. or to reach oxygen free room with canning. or to make small very flat or even foldable stoves.

Ion Yourshirt wrote at 5/20/2016 1:36:36 PM:

Could this be used for to make a miniature gas chromatograph ? Does the high temperatures reached avoid contamination of the heating elements ?

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