Batteries get the 3D printing treatment

For the first time, researchers have successfully printed the working parts of a lithium-ion device

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Lithium-ion batteries can now be printed in a variety of shapes.

Scientists from Duke University claim they have developed a process to 3D print complete lithium-ion batteries with an inexpensive machine, using an electrolyte solution to increase the ionic conductivity of the polymers used and in doing so, create the working parts of a battery.

Previously, only the non-conductive parts of a battery could be 3D printed.

Researchers say the ability to create batteries in a variety of forms and shapes means manufacturers of electric vehicles, cell phones and laptops won’t have to adapt their designs to the size and shape of commercially available batteries.

Researchers said: “Most lithium-ion batteries on the market come in cylindrical or rectangular shapes.

“Therefore, when a manufacturer is designing a product such as a cell phone, they must dedicate a certain size and shape to the battery, which could waste space and limit design options.”

The team also managed to boost the battery’s electrical conductivity by incorporating graphene nanotubes into the anode.

The capacity of the batteries are currently too low for normal use but the group is working to get past this issue.

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