Re: [rp-ml] Will nanoparticles revolutionize 3D Printing?

From: Brock Hinzmann (
Date: Thu Feb 08 2007 - 02:08:50 EET


I also saw an announcement about Kodak getting back into printing, but I
read something different, I guess, about the cost part. My understanding
was that the ink cartridges would be cheaper because Kodak is putting
the print head into the printer, rather than in the cartidge. These are
micromachined/MEMS devices. HP and others put them into the ink
cartridge, because they can get clogged up over time and malfunction, so
they get better reliability by also replacing the head everytime you
replace the cartridge. Kodak has said they found a solution to the
clogging problem, so they feel they can reduce the cost of the cartridge.

That isn't to say nanomaterials aren't at least part of the solution.
Perhaps the nanomaterials are the secret to reducing the clogging,
although I would assume it's something to do with the high quality of
the print. Xerox also had a nanoparticle-based color printing solution a
couple years back, which took them 11 years to perfect, but essentially
made commercial-quality printing affordable for everyone. The Kodak
article I read did not mention nanomaterials, so I don't know. Generally
speaking, nanomaterials are more expensive than the materials they
replace, but you can sometimes add a great deal of value by replacing
other material costs, through greater functionality, using less overall
material or replacing some other costly engineered function, with the
addition of just a small amount of nanomaterials. For instance, putting
nanoclays in a polymer matrix to make plastic beer bottles, eliminating
multiple barrier coatings that were previously required to prevent gases
from escaping the bottle and harmful light wavelengths from entering the
bottle. A tiny bit of nanoclay particles eliminates a lot of complexity.
Also, big savings are achieved through reduced transportation costs from
shipping beer in plastic bottles rather than shipping glass. In other
words, someone has taken a well thought out systems approach. I haven't
had any of the beer out of those bottles, so I can't speak to the
quality of the result.

In 3-D printing technology, I can imagine all sorts of things
nanoparticles might do. Could a little dab of carbon nanotubes greatly
strengthen a printed shape, such that thinner walls or edges or
one-piece hinges could be made? Could some small amount of functional
material be added to a part to greatly increase its value or to allow
rapid customization of short runs of manufactured parts? One thing about
nanoparticles is than they don't conform to some of the same physics as
bulk powders might, such as centrifugal forces or gravity that might
cause them to settle out in a vat in some undesirable way. Physical
attractions, van der Waals forces and the like might lead to some
interesting properties that are possible only in 3-D printing solutions.

I have long figured someone was working on these kinds of things. Most
unversities seem to have a nanotech program these days. Ask an
institution near to you. If not, get an idea and take it to your local
government manufacturing extension center and ask for some money.

Brock Hinzmann
Technology Navigator wrote:

>I noted with interest that Kodak has announced a new series of photo printers that use inks made with nanoparticles. The big advantage of this technology is that the cost of inks will be cut by 50% and the lifetime of the photos will be significantly enhanced.
>When will nanoparticles come into the technology of 3D printers?
>We certainly need lower price materials to really expand the market for 3D printers to the point where everybody who wants one can afford one and the associated materials that go with it.

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