3D printing & laser annealing of conductive metallic inks without supports may evolve to mutable electronic & biomedical devices
The increasing complexity of hardware requires a new methodology of creating circuits & other conductive metals. Led by professor Jennifer Lewis, the team from Harvard Wyss Institute have a developed a way to 3D print conductive metal inks in midair. Electronics & electronic circuits have predominantly been created in a 2D manner through flat & rigid design structures.
Professor Lewis & her team used ink made of silver nanoparticles, sending it through a nozzle & annealing it thereafter using a programmable laser application.
"If the laser gets too close to the nozzle during printing, heat is conducted upstream which clogs the nozzle with solidified ink," said Skylar-Scott. "To address this, we devised a heat transfer model to account for temperature distribution along a given silver wire pattern, allowing us to modulate the printing speed and distance between the nozzle and laser to elegantly control the laser annealing process ‘on-the-fly.’ "