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3D Printed Micro-Scale Heating Elements with Graphene

Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a method to 3D print heating elements. The created heating elements could be very small and at the same time they can create high temperatures.

There are different use cases for heating elements. One of them is for chemical reactions; they often need some sort of heating to work. For this purpose it was common to use a laser to create high temperatures at small scale. But heating with a laser is very expensive and doesn’t provide a consistent temperature, so they are not perfect for this purpose.

Because of that researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a new technique to 3D print very small heating elements. They have used a special filament that consists of graphene oxide. With this material and their current 3D printer it’s possible to print heating elements as small as 200µm. When the graphene oxide is carbonized it becomes RGO (reduced graphene oxide). That’s a highly conductive stable material that can generate high temperatures and is also working under vacuum.

Our 3D-printed heater uses graphene oxide. When electrical current is applied to this heater, it can generate high temperatures (3,000 K) with exceptional fast rate (in less than 100 millisecond, an estimated heating rate 20,000 K/s) and superior stability (>2,000 cycles, with continuous high temperature lasting for more than a day without noticeable decay)

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The temperature of the heating element rises based on the level of electrical current being run through it.

To heat the printed elements they only need some power running threw them. If more power runs threw them they get hotter (that’s also called joule heating). The researcher are still working on generating higher temperatures – now 3.000 Kelvin (2.726,85 degree Celsius) are possible.  They are also working to make the printed heating elements small, their target is to create heating elements that are only a few nanometres in size. The team has also published their current stage of research.

In the current stage, the size of our heating element measures in microns; our goal is to achieve 3D nanoprinting. So far, this has been a challenge for us, which requires us to learn more about the graphene oxide inks and designing new 3D printers. In addition, we hope to increase the temperature from 3,000K to even higher temperatures that can be potentially used to explore the unknown properties of materials in such extreme high temperature environments