The race is on to design and create more sustainable power solutions for the world around us. This includes battery configurations, fuel cells, and more compact electrical circuits on printed circuit boards and integrated circuits. It's all part of a growing world-wide push to develop energy storage systems that are not only compact, but may operate without charging for long periods of time.
New energy storage systems work with, and supplement sustainable renewable sources of energy such as wind, waves, and solar. Electrochemical devices for energy storage like electrochemical capacitors and rechargeable batteries promise high energy and power storage systems that provide electrical energy. An electrochemical capacitor or a full battery typically consists of two electrodes, current collectors, separators and electrolytes.
Electrolyte modifications, fabrication of electrode, and device assemblies are vital factors that could impact the electrochemical behavior of electric energy storage devices (EESD) in considerable measure. It is expected that the development of new scientific technologies would elevate the EESDs field to a better and more desirable level. 3D printing is an innovative approach that helps fabricate electrochemical storage devices for energy.
Direct writing and inkjet printing are widely utilized 3D printing processes for electrical energy systems. 3D Printing may combine traditional ink materials with electrical chemicals into a solvent. Such material may be used as 3D printing feedstock to create electrical energy storage devices. Using 3D printing in such applications has many advantages:
- It enables the rapid fabrication of electrodes and components by first prototyping the fabrications from designs.
- It may be used to print unique architectures using restricted chemistry with planned design, linked with a unique porosity for the electrical device.
- Flexible fabrication of electrode materials and complete device manufacturing by using trial and error to arrive at a device with optimal performance for a given application.
- Chips located on a storage device may be 3D printed with optimal thicknesses from a few nanometers to millimeters, creating unique capacitance properties.
- It allows direct integration or co-fabrication of EESDs with external electronics, obviating the need for further assembly of device and packaging stages.
- 3D printing technologies, like photopolymerization and extruder materials, help manufacture EESDs through the precise design from many materials and controlled architectures. The integration of innovative conductive polymers in the printing program opens different possibilities for next-generation EESDs.
3D Printing Electrical Energy Storage Devices in Action
The DragonFly System is used to 3D print functioning electronics prototypes and complicated multi-layer printed circuit boards (PCBs). This method is faster than traditional etched and soldered circuit boards. It creates a reliable circuit, but designers found it required more attention to refine the design and make it effective. They teamed up to construct a radio frequency (RF) amplifier using 3D printed, electronic elements. They are now working on developing hardware for the International Space Station. Their focus is to enhance the 3D printing process for RF components for the International Space Station. A new way to build radio frequency and circuit boards is to find innovative techniques utilizing additive manufacturing.
Aerosol Jet Technology, for example, is used to print embedded circuits on the nanoscale. Both local deposition and local curing are used in this unique method. It makes electronics parts more inexpensive and reduces material waste, all while maintaining a higher resolution.
A research team based at Tohoku University, based in Japan, has 3D printed the first proton exchange membrane, a critical component of batteries, electrochemical capacitors and fuel cells. The achievement also brings the possibility of custom solid-state energy devices closer to reality, according to the researchers.
"Energy storage devices whose shapes can be tailored enable entirely new possibilities for applications related, for example, to smart wearable, electronic medical devices, and electronic appliances such as drones," said Kazuyuki Iwase,
paper author and assistant professor in professor Itaru Honma's group at the Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials at Tohoku University. "3D printing is a technology that enables the realization of such on-demand structures."
Researchers at the University of Hamburg developed a process suitable for 3D printing that can be used to produce transparent and mechanically flexible electronic circuits. The team was able to develop a flexible capacitor. The electronics consists of a mesh of silver nanowires that can be printed in suspension and embedded in various flexible and transparent plastics (polymers). This technology can enable new applications such as printable light-emitting diodes, solar cells or tools with integrated circuits.
Reinventing the Art of the Possible
By advancing the 3D printer technologies, it is anticipated that multi-process printing techniques will allow EESD integration and production with compact energy storage an circuitry that serves to disrupt the capability of electrical engineering by providing unique energy storage configurations never thought possible.