Aerosol Jet 3D Printing Could Produce Longer Lasting Phones

Tired of your phone battery refusing to last as long as advertised? Then you’ll want to know more about new research which may just fix the problem using a method called Aerosol Jet 3D printing!

Previously here on FMS Blog, we featured an article on a 3D printed gel which could help preserve digital mobile phone and device screens. Following on from this, two researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering believe they may have found a way to improve a mobile phone’s battery life. But how do their findings evidence a way in which to improve charging times and increase the battery’s capacity?

Uses for Aerosol Jet 3D Printing

The key lies in a process called Aerosol Jet 3D printing, their study suggests. The method involves fabricating the electrodes of a battery using the Aerosol Jet 3D Printing technique. This system also helps to print planar sensors and other electronics on a smaller scale. When the battery has been put through this 3D printing method, the lower weight and higher capacity means they can be used effectively in a variety of devices, not just mobile phones. The newly produced batteries could be used efficiently with small drones, medical devices, smartphones and even in the aerospace industries. Miniaturized batteries are also high in demand in the Biomedical sector and could be used to power Biomedical electronic devices sufficiently.

How the Battery is Created

3D Printed Battery

Image Credit: Rahul Panat & Mohammad Sadeq Saleh

To explain how the battery is created, the research team investigated the flaw with standard lithium-ion batteries. They found that inside the electrode materials of these types of batteries is a mixture consisting of a glue-like substance. The substance is called a ‘binder’ and is normally pressed onto electrodes whilst being kept separate by a polymer separator. Due to this, the electrodes aren’t fully utilized (up to 30 to 50% remains unused) which is we experience a lower battery capacity.

The change that Aerosol Jet 3D printing creates however, fixes this issue. Using a method developed in their lab, the researchers were able to 3D print the electrodes of the battery. They did this by assembling droplets one-by-one into 3D structures. It meant that the stress of the 3D printing electrodes is now able to be spread equally, versus the traditional method which uses uneven distribution.

Aerosol Jet 3D Printing Technology Still in Development

As exciting as this discovery is, it unfortunately is still in development. The team behind the research have estimated that it would be another two to three years yet until the method can be best utilised. Speaking more on their discovery, Rahul Panat, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, explains more on how Aerosol Jet 3D printing will be able to create better quality batteries for phones and digital devices.

“No one until now has used 3D printing to create these kinds of complex structures. This technology will make the batteries lighter and/or smaller for a given capacity that can be charged at a faster rate at the same time compared to current batteries made from block electrodes. Alternatively, for the same weight, the capacity gain can increase the time the battery lasts before it will need to be recharged.”

Sam Rose