The world’s first ever 3D printed battery was unveiled by a joint team from Harvard University and the University of Illinois. In the video below you can see how the custom built printer with its 30 micron wide nozzle goes about its business of printing the comb-shaped halves of the electrodes that make up the battery. The entire battery measures in at under a millimeter in length and according to co-author Shen Dillon the “performance is comparable to commercial batteries in terms of charge and discharge rate, cycle life and energy densities” but that they were able to achieve it on a much smaller scale. The special ink used in the printing process is a special nanoparticle infused paste which allows the battery to use the same lithium-ion technology used in current smartphone batteries to achieve similar performance.
There are a wide range of benefits to smaller battery technology especially for robotics manufacturers who need to be able to cram batteries into increasingly small creations which are limited in part by the size of their componentry. More pressing to the everyday person is that the biggest benefit of smaller batteries that can be printed onto any surface would be in smartphones and tablets. Imagine if your next smartphone with its already non-user removable battery had every millimeter of extra internal space printed with more battery. All day battery life might no longer be a dream for devices that are increasingly power hungry, devices with 6-inch high definition displays that guzzle battery power.
Source: Wyss Institute