3D printing of nanomaterials

The implementation of additive manufacturing (AM) processes into production routes is consistently expanding with interest from several different industries, such as automotive, construction, biomedical and aerospace. At the latter, novel heat management strategies can enhance the overall efficiency of aerospace vehicles. As high-power electronics in aerospace vehicles become smaller, for example, they will require more sophisticated integrated heat management systems such as on chip microfluidics. In commercial aviation, next-generation thermal barrier coatings materials systems that can reflect heat (“photonic-based” rTBCs), could be the missing key to enable devices to work at higher operating temperatures.

However, both in microfluidics and rTBCs, the size of the features that are responsible for the materials systems’ interesting properties is smaller than a grain of salt. That means that to be able to function in a device, such tiny nanoscale features need to be assembled in a bigger macroscopic scale. That is where materials science and materials engineering meet! 

In their latest work, Benedikt Winhard, a PhD candidate of the Integrated Materials Systems (IMS) group of TUHH, led by Prof. Kaline P. Furlan, have presented a printing approach that enables high printing resolution together with scalability. These two features, fast manufacturing of macroscale device dimensions with nanostructured features, are usually incompatible characteristics in AM, representing a process barrier. They show that by combining direct writing as an extrusion based additive manufacturing with colloidal assembly - which they refer to as AMCA process, this barrier can be breached.

The IMS team explains that the traditional AM line-by-line approach is incompatible for direct writing of low-viscous additive-free water-based suspensions. Thereby, they had to develop a completely new approach, named “comb”-strategy, which allowed the 3D printing of crack-free macroscopic areas comprising nanostructured materials within minutes. Moreover, the group has shown that a further functionalization of the 3D printed structures by atomic layer deposition (ALD), an advanced coating process, enables the creation of ceramic-based nanostructured materials systems for potential applications in microfluidics and next-generation photonic thermal barrier coatings, which could make aerospace industry more sustainable.

The researchers are now investigating the application of such 3D printed nanostructured devices in other fields, such as green hydrogen generation, sturdy structural colors and pattern-free microfluidics. Want to know more about the 3D printing of nanomaterials? Then have a look at the open access paper, as well as the Integrated Materials Systems group website (we are hiring!).

Copyright: 2022 The Authors. Small Methods published by Wiley-VCH GmbH (Creative Commons Attribution License)


Prof. Dr.Sc.Eng. Kaline P. Furlan

Hamburg University of Technology

Institute of Advanced Ceramics

Integrated Materials Systems Group