Photocentric launches a new research division to develop 3D printed batteries
Based in the UK, Photocentric is one of the leading 3D printer and material manufacturers. The company has been producing photopolymer resins since 2002 and is believed to be the world-leader in Visible Light Polymerisation (VLP) 3D printing technology. Recently, Photocentric has launched a new research department dedicated entirely to the development of eco-friendly 3D printed batteries. The goal is to design – and mass produce – electric batteries that are lighter and better optimized for automotive use than the existing solutions.
Current batteries that are utilized in the automotive industry are large, heavy and not optimized for their intended application. As the result, vehicle design is ultimately dictated by battery availability. Therefore, Photocentric decided to utilize its existing fleet of AM systems, in order to 3D print batteries that are lighter and smaller, but also more customized than the existing devices. According to Dr Sarah Karmel, Head of R&D Chemistry at Photocentric, the company is planning to work not only on the battery electrodes but the full battery cell as well.
Additive manufacturing will enable Photocentric to control both the macro and micro geometries of the batteries, allowing complete control over the porosity of the electrodes. In other words, such 3D printed batteries can be highly customized to fit electric vehicles., as opposed to the current situation where vehicles are actually built around batteries. The company believes that their technology will result in significant improvements in battery performance. In fact, Photocentric hopes that their 3D printed solution will be used in a future Tesla Giga factory based in the UK.
While it seems like the UK-based AM manufacturer will mainly focus on batteries for electric cars, Dr Karmel stated that the potential applications can, in fact, be numerous. The novel batteries can be easily used in drones, for example. Overall, if Photocentric succeeds in their ambitious endeavor and manages to change the chemistry of the battery – it is not the easiest thing to 3D print after all – the initiative can end up being truly revolutionizing.
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