Ghassan E. Jabbour is a University of Arizona professor developing an inkjet printing process that produces photovoltaic devices such as solar cells. He uses digitized images on a computer and sends them to a printer that sprays an organic solution onto an electrically conductive surface. He describes the printed product as a self-illuminated photograph. "The new process uses inkjet to vary the conductivity of the conductors," says Jabbour. "Basically, we design an electronic circuit, scan it to a computer, then send it to the printer." He programmed the printer to interpret colors and convert them to particular chemicals that produce predetermined reactions. "We do some chemistry that allows us to control where we want a lot of electrons and where we don't want electrons." His self-illuminated photographs print in visible colors, but he can also print in colors in the infrared wavelength range that are invisible to the naked eye. For more information, go to www.ua.edu.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
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