Research highlight

3D printing for custom chemistry

Nature Chemistry

April 16, 2012

The use of 3D printing to create tailor-made containers for chemical reactions is reported online inNature Chemistry this week. This technique puts the design, construction and operation of custom labware under digital control and offers researchers rapid access to almost any reaction vessel they can imagine.

Leroy Cronin and colleagues use a relatively low-cost commercially available 3D printing platform with open-source design software to produce a range of what they call ‘reactionware’. The basic material used to make the reactionware is simply a bathroom sealant, which is a quick-setting polymer, but additional components - such as observation windows or electrodes - can be incorporated during the printing process. Catalysts can also be printed into the walls of the reactionware to create reactors that actively participate in chemical reactions, something that is not possible with traditional labware.

In an accompanying News & Views article, R. Daniel Johnson says that, “One promising aspect of this idea is that 3D printing enables the rapid preparation of complex reactor systems that would not otherwise be readily accessible.”

doi: 10.1038/nchem.1313

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