[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olQn2iklQmw’]A team of scientists from Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has manufactured a battery the size of a grain of sand with a 3D printer. The group custom-built a 3D printer capable of manufacturing the new battery layer by layer, using filaments as thin as human hair. Harvard reports:
In recent years engineers have invented many miniaturized devices, including medical implants, flying insect-like robots, and tiny cameras and microphones that fit on a pair of glasses. But often the batteries that power them are as large or larger than the devices themselves, which defeats the purpose of building small….The scientists realized they could pack more energy if they could create stacks of tightly interlaced, ultrathin electrodes that were built out of plane. For this they turned to 3D printing.
As we pack more powerful chips into smaller and smaller devices capable of doing more and more, we need to give these nano-devices the juice they need. In that respect, this breakthrough marks a great stride forward, because it’s the battery isn’t just tiny; it’s powerful as well. The battery’s “electrochemical performance is comparable to commercial batteries in terms of charge and discharge rate, cycle life and energy densities. We’re just able to achieve this on a much smaller scale,” said Shen Dillon, one of the paper’s co-authors.The process of manufacturing things with 3D printing is very, well, cool, and will attract many an avid hobbyist. But news like this reminds us that the real value of the technology is in the things it can make. These scientists saw 3D printing as a means to an end, and while fans of the television show How It’s Made know how entrancing the production process can be, the end result is the real deal.