June 4, 2014
Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) are a relatively new nano material. They were first produced, as well as recognized, in the early 1990′s. Over the years, these single layer rolls of interconnected carbon atoms have dropped drastically in price from $1500 a gram in 2000 to about $35-$50 a gram today. This has enabled an explosion of research around CNTs as well as products already being produced out of the material. CNTs are traditionally extremely strong, great thermal and electric conductors, and are able to stand up to a great deal of pressure without deformation.
One man, by the name of Brandon Sweeney, who is a chemical engineering doctoral candidate at Texas Tech Univerisity, has deviated from the traditional methods of using CNT’s for 3D printing. One problem that he came upon, when using an FDM based printer, was that the plastic prints lacked strength at the points where each layer connected to the one below it. If a printed object were to be bent or torn apart, the point of failure is almost always between two of the layers of a that object. Sweeney, however, came up with a solution.