3D Printing Graduates from Plastic Chunks to Incredible Micro-Batteries

By Eric Limer on at

3D printing is great for building lifeless husks out of plastic, but soon we'll be able to start printing guts as well. Scientists have figured out how to coax a fully functioning lithium-ion battery out of nothing but some paste, and those small batteries could have big applications.

Developed by researchers from Harvard and the University of Illinois, each little power-pack is the size of a grain of sand and made up of two little comb-shaped bits of lithium metal oxide pastes which are then hardened, interlaced, and dunked in a tiny container full of electrolyte solution. The result is a battery that's not only 3D printable, but also as good as a tiny mobile phone battery, with similar charge rates, power density, and cycle life.

Tiny batteries have existed before, but the size has always come at a cost. Medical implants, and other miniaturised devices have already started blowing past what existing micro-batteries can handle. And being able to 3D print these suckers makes production a breeze, once you have the right setup. Now we just need to figure out those graphene batteries and we'll be all set. [Harvard via Engadget]