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Can You 3d Print Graphene?

Can You 3d Print Graphene? Graphene, the thinnest material ever created, is an allotrope of carbon with a hexagonal lattice. Graphene is one of the strongest materials in existence and has many potential applications in various fields.

However, graphene cannot be 3d printed because it does not have a hydrocarbon backbone that can be manipulated by hydrocarbons for construction purposes. 

Graphene-based composites are being studied to create lightweight parts for aircraft or car bodies that are both strong and lightweight.

These materials could also replace steel as reinforcement bars in concrete making them stronger than steel without adding much weight to structures.


Can you 3d print graphene? Graphene printing inks (acs materials )

In a word, No. Graphene is one of the strongest materials known to man and has been touted by some as being the ‘super material’ of the future. But currently, no printer on earth can print with graphene ink because it won’t adhere to our standard filaments or printing surfaces.

If you’d like to learn more about graphene read this article: Everything You Need To Know About Graphene In 30 Minutes Or Less

Many printers claim to be able to 3d print graphene but that’s not what they’re actually using in their process.

These companies are simply mixing small amounts of graphene into another material such as ABS which does lend an increase in strength but doesn’t quite match the properties of true graphene.

Graphene is made up of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.

A single atom thick and nearly completely transparent, graphene passes electrons with almost no restriction which makes it an ideal conductor.

It’s also super strong and heat resistant (unlike 100% plastic filaments).

The problem is that no 3D filament manufacturer has been able to create a material that can be extruded effectively on our standard machines.

For now, we’re stuck using 3d printed objects that contain traces of graphene mixed into another filament such as PLA or ABS.

3d printed graphene strength

Can You 3d Print Graphene? (cre: drupa)

Graphene filament overview

A team led by scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has developed a way to grow graphene-based sheets that can be tailored with atomically precise features. The advance may lead to ultrathin solar cells and high-performance computer displays.

“It’s one step closer to making completely novel two-dimensional structures,” said senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Materials Science & Engineering Program at UCSD. Bao, her students, and colleagues in China published details of their invention on January 6 in Nature Communications.

Graphene is an attractive material for manufacturing thin-film electronics because it allows light to pass through it while being durable enough to withstand normal use. However, graphene in its pure form is a relatively poor electrical conductor unless modified with nanoscale features.

Such modification can currently be achieved only through laborious layering processes that produce structures too thin to reap the material’s full electronic benefits.

The UCSD scientists overcame this limitation by growing large-area graphene on top of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), an electrically insulating crystal that is easier to modify chemically than graphene itself.

It was already known that when grown together, these two materials would naturally assemble into atomically precise superlattices— periodic stacks with well-defined arrangements of atoms or molecules, said Zhiwei Peng, who co-authored the paper and works in Bao’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher.

However, the two materials tend to segregate, forming islands of hBN amid large swaths of graphene.

The UCSD team was able to overcome this tendency by growing the crystals at low temperatures and precisely controlling the transition from hBN to graphene.

With these innovations, they were able to produce sheets that are up to 10 microns thick—orders of magnitude larger than layers produced by most other techniques.

how to make 3d printed graphene

Can You 3d Print Graphene? (cre: same)

Graphene SLA resin and Graphene Supplies

Graphene SLA resin and Graphene Supplies, the leading UK suppliers to the 3D printing industry have joined forces with leading US filament manufacturers ColorFabb and eSUN to develop a new range of filaments for use in FFF/FDM style 3D printers such as those made by Makerbot, Ultimaker and RepRap.

“We are delighted that our long-term partner eSUN has agreed to be involved in this project.” Says Dr. Alevtina Titova, Marketing Director at Graphene SLA resin. “This is really exciting news for all fans of composite materials used in 3D printing.”

The first two products from the partnership are due to go on sale in early 2016 following extensive testing at Graphene’s production facility in the UK.

The first filament to be released will be a recycled copper-infused PLA filament produced by eSUN.

It is expected to have significantly better mechanical properties than conventional PLA filaments and increased durability making it well suited for applications such as robotics, cosplay items, and other designs where high strength combined with low weight is important.

Initial testing has shown that components printed from the filament outperform those made from conventional PLA materials under impact stress tests.

The second product will be a one-of-a-kind carbon composite material that uses graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) as a filler material together with sustainably sourced wood fibers to create unique-looking 3D prints which are incredibly strong and lightweight at the same time.

The material has an interesting carbon fiber pattern on its surface which makes it look very stylish. It can be used to create 3D printed objects that are both lightweight and flexible, but also extremely strong and durable. This material may be especially useful for designing parts requiring excellent shock absorbance properties such as dashboards for vehicles or cases for electronic devices.

Graphene Supplies specializes in sales of graphene nanoplatelets (GNP), a novel nanomaterial with a number of potentially revolutionary applications including the replacement of metal fillers currently used in plastics to improve their mechanical properties without compromising the printability of the material. In particular, many filament manufacturers have been turning to graphene nanoplatelets as a means of reinforcing PLA filaments making them more durable under high-stress conditions.

“We are incredibly excited to begin our partnership with eSUN and Graphene Supplies,” says James Diaz, CEO of ColorFabb. “The new materials that we will be developing together open up a world of possibilities for designers and engineers alike who want to create 3D printed products which have the strength of metal but at a fraction of the weight.”

“It’s all about enabling our customers to produce parts which just weren’t possible before with conventional manufacturing technologies.” States Dr Titova. “Using graphene nanoplatelets in our materials provides them with extremely strong material properties even when using eco-friendly feedstocks such as PLA or wood fibers – there really is no limit to what we can achieve together.”

Other materials which will be released by the partners in due course include specialty carbon and wood filaments and a number of in-house developed composites featuring graphene nanoplatelets.

Can You 3d Print Graphene

Can You 3d Print Graphene? (cre: graphene)

3D graphene in construction (printed models)

– By choosing an appropriate form of 3D graphene, materials that are now only mechanically strong can be made also electrically conductive.

– Building with graphene could lead to new kinds of composite materials which combine the best properties of different bases (e.g. lightweight and tough).

– The technique brings us closer to making complex geometric constructions out of single pieces like the beams in I. M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid or Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St Louis, Missouri.

– “Graphene is regarded as a wonder material because it conducts electricity better than copper, is 100 times stronger than steel, and has unique optical properties”, says Professor Saroj Dash who leads the team at IIT Ropar is experimenting with graphene.

– 3D graphene can be bought in pieces that have to be cut into shapes according to the desired design, just like pieces of fabric are bought for manufacturing clothes.

– The team has used a laser cutter ‘Manjeet 1’ to produce lots of prototypes including curved surfaces that are impossible to make out of ordinary 2D graphene because they are not flexible enough. However, 3D forms are so strong and tough that they do not require any additional support. – Professor Dash says his team is already working on making 3D objects also electrically conductive: “We plan to coat them with copper in specific patterns and will use carbon nanotubes in some parts,” he said.

“Figuring out how to make graphene nanostructures with novel properties is a field in its infancy. But as we learn more about those structures and how to make them, they will become useful tools for creating smaller and faster electronic devices or better thermoelectric materials (materials that turn heat into electricity), among other things.

– “We’re working on structures that are both electrically and mechanically active — something you can’t do with ordinary 2D graphene,” Professor Saroj Dash says. “For example, we want to see if we can use these nanoparticles as building blocks for larger-scale applications like making batteries or supercapacitors.”

– Graphene has been associated with strength since the 1920s when scientists theorized about its carbon-to-carbon bond structure. That makes it an obvious candidate for fashioning into 3D shapes, which are very strong but not flexible.

– “Graphene is also transparent and has unique optical properties, so our dream is to use the material to make optically active scaffolds or components”, Professor Dash says.


Graphene is a material with many properties that make it ideal for 3D printing. Its strength, flexibility, and conductivity are all useful traits in the creation of new products. While there may be challenges to overcome before graphene can become an everyday product utilized by consumers across the world, this discovery has opened up some interesting opportunities for researchers and engineers who want to create new innovations on a global scale.

Further Reading: 

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