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Print Your Own Labware, Catalysts Included 33

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tsa-responds-with-blanket-container-ban dept.
scibri writes "Chemists have found a way to make reaction vessels perfectly suited to their needs, with 3D printers. From the article: 'Armed with a three-dimensional printer and the type of silicone-based sealant typically used for bathrooms, researchers have demonstrated a novel way to control chemical reactions ... One vessel was printed with catalyst-laced "ink," enabling the container walls to drive chemical reactions. Another container included built-in electrodes, made from skinny strips of polymer printed with a conductive carbon-based additive. The strips carried currents that stimulated an electrochemical reaction within the vessel.'"
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Print Your Own Labware, Catalysts Included

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:46AM (#39700121)

    This is sure to lead to some fantastic bongs.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You must be kidding me, $32 for a single article in an electronic format. In what kind of dream world do these pushlishing groups live in? Shame that all that knowledge lurks behind some arbitrary borders and is thus limited to a small group of lucky people.

    • Re:Paywalls (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:52AM (#39700161) Journal

      In what kind of dream world do these pushlishing groups live in?

      Academia. They charge that much because the universities have the money because they charge a lot because student loans have the money.

      • Re:Paywalls (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bowling Moses (591924) on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:03PM (#39702029) Journal
        "...the universities have the money..."

        Damn it you made me laugh so hard I nearly pissed myself.

        Seriously though American universities are falling apart, salaries low, temporary and part-time positions (full time responsibilities for half pay! Yay!) are ever increasingly common, buildings in dire need of replacement, over $25 billion in deferred maintenance (ever have a ceiling cave in on you? I have. Not fun.), and university libraries everywhere have been slashing their journal subscriptions for years because they cost too much. Public funding of American universities has been slashed repeatedly over the last 30 years. A state university used to get 80% of its funds from the state. Now a state university usually gets around 20%, but some get single-digit support making them private schools in all but name. This is the cause of sky high tuition. Every time a state slashes university funding, tuition increases.
    • Re:Paywalls (Score:4, Interesting)

      by robthebloke (1308483) on Monday April 16, 2012 @11:59AM (#39700735)
      I remember a few years ago, I started getting really annoyed that every new computer graphics paper, was simply a 20 year old paper appended with "on the GPU!". Those kind of papers never struck me as research, they always seemed more akin to an army of people screeching "the GPU is faster than the CPU for graphics!", which should be bloody obvious.....

      It would now appear that the current fashion is to write papers about inanimate objects, and append "made on a 3d printer" to the title. At least this paper has some element of novel thinking to it, i.e. replace colour pigments with chemicals you want to react, but I don't think that makes it worth paying $32 for.....
    • In what kind of dream world do these pushlishing groups live in?

      As an academic, I would describe it as more like living in a nightmare.

      • by hannza (2480742)

        As an academic, I would describe it as more like living in a nightmare.

        yeah. it's hell. I think a lot of students pay more fore textbooks than they do for food. Since I'm a science major, I'm usually required to get the new editions, which are twice the cost of the previous edition. Of course, most of the information in the old edition is outdated...

        I can definitely see how this could be useful, especially in research labs. but with budgets in the state they are, it'll be years before public universities will get a chance to even think about applying this technology.

  • i got a little "electronics kit" as a birthday present and the additional modules every year after it was a great experience and kinda brought me into the whole electronics/pc world such kits were also available from the same manufacturer for chemistry i would sure love to see this printing technology made into such products as they are a great way to play&learn imho
  • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:53AM (#39700169) Homepage
    That could be interesting, I wonder if the information is open (I've been here long enough to know not to RTFA), because I know the reprap guys have been trying to find a way of printing conductive parts, primarily so they can make the first steps to printing circuits.
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:56AM (#39700187)

    3d printers civilian forfeiture seized as drug lab paraphernalia in 3... 2... 1...

    It is an interesting economic problem as it costs way more than glass, but is "optimized". Not sure when it would economically pay off.

    Recently I was making fun of chemistry glass taper standards on /., because just like in CS / IT there are so many conflicting standards that won't interoperate. Its almost as bad as screw threads. Printing a "optimized" 127 ml beaker with built in electrodes instead of taking a generic pyrex 125 ml off the shelf and sticking some off the shelf electrodes into it, seems a complete waste of expensive and slow 3-d printing resources, but writing a "magic" python script (or whatever) that could squirt out a 3-d file to adapt any ground glass taper to any other ground glass taper would be pretty handy.

    Aren't the clamps for ground glass called "keck clips" or something like that? I'm talking about the little plastic clamps that hold ground glass joints together so they don't fall apart while working. I believe that product came out in the mid 80s a bit too late for my lab time in the early 90s. A fellow o-chem student had a nice small lab fire due to the lab not having those new-fangled keck clips available (no injury or property damage, thankfully). I think there is a realistic safety advantage by being able to print up the exact safety gear you need, whenever you need it. That might be another valid chem lab market. Not having the proper clamps and such is no excuse if you can just print another.

    I also think it would be fun to 3-d print microscale apparatus, because at least its small and cheap and fast. Didn't read the article, maybe thats the scale they're talking about.

  • I expect to see a Slashdot article on this in the near future.
  • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Monday April 16, 2012 @11:05AM (#39700271)

    This is a fantastic - and obvious - idea.

    The hard part is convincing any supervisor that their basic lab equipment is in fact a serious impediment to research. Quarter million dollar nano-ink printer? Where do I sign! "Hi, we need to get about 100 more beakers because at any 1 time people are using 50 or so for various things" - "Well I don't know. I think people should really just return them sooner".

    • by Epimer (1337967)

      The supervisor's right - they should return them sooner.

      Honestly, nothing drove me more nuts than people being inconsiderate with communal glassware. My lab was excellently equipped, with a more than sufficient supply of glassware for the people working there - if they were kept in circulation, that is. Instead they sat in fridges, freezers, in the back of fumehoods, often unlabelled and far past the point of their contents being important or, in some cases, even known.

      It's bad lab practice. Keep stocks of

      • The supervisor's right - they should return them sooner.

        Honestly, nothing drove me more nuts than people being inconsiderate with communal glassware. My lab was excellently equipped, with a more than sufficient supply of glassware for the people working there - if they were kept in circulation, that is. Instead they sat in fridges, freezers, in the back of fumehoods, often unlabelled and far past the point of their contents being important or, in some cases, even known.

        It's bad lab practice. Keep stocks of intermediates etc. in cleaned out reagent bottles. Keep small samples in glass vials or other "disposable" glassware. Don't store your NMR tubes or marker pens in glassware (I'm not making these examples up).

        Although, thinking back on it, maybe that stuff was only really bugging me because it was the last six months of my PhD and *everything* was bugging me...

        I would have been quite annoyed at that. Hell, I even get annoyed when the people near my lab bench have a bunch of glassware (UNLABELED) scattered around and encroaching on my workspace. It's not like we're heating 12M HCl every day, but even if we're using .15M KI in water, it's not that hard to label things and keep a lab space organized! of course, some of these people have to be reminded about using the right disposal container...

        but then, we're not PhD students

        • The supervisor's right - they should return them sooner.

          Honestly, nothing drove me more nuts than people being inconsiderate with communal glassware. My lab was excellently equipped, with a more than sufficient supply of glassware for the people working there - if they were kept in circulation, that is. Instead they sat in fridges, freezers, in the back of fumehoods, often unlabelled and far past the point of their contents being important or, in some cases, even known.

          It's bad lab practice. Keep stocks of intermediates etc. in cleaned out reagent bottles. Keep small samples in glass vials or other "disposable" glassware. Don't store your NMR tubes or marker pens in glassware (I'm not making these examples up).

          Although, thinking back on it, maybe that stuff was only really bugging me because it was the last six months of my PhD and *everything* was bugging me...

          I would have been quite annoyed at that. Hell, I even get annoyed when the people near my lab bench have a bunch of glassware (UNLABELED) scattered around and encroaching on my workspace. It's not like we're heating 12M HCl every day, but even if we're using .15M KI in water, it's not that hard to label things and keep a lab space organized! of course, some of these people have to be reminded about using the right disposal container...

          but then, we're not PhD students

          It's a good idea in theory but it breaks when it's confronted with reality or complex synthesis. The sheer number of difficult compounds which end up stuck inside a round bottom flask can be staggering. Not inaccessible - you can scrape the little bit you need out each time, but also already not enough as to make discarding them or trying to hard to get them out unwise.

          It's also because, IMO, not a lot of people appreciate scale particularly well when you're trying to do controls: you can't very well be was

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday April 16, 2012 @11:53AM (#39700673) Homepage

    Actually, about a week ago I was looking at some 3d printer porn (waiting for my reprap kit to arrive)..and saw mention of how objects can be printed that couldn't really be built other ways...solid pieces with internal cavity walls etc....

    the first thing I thought of was, in fact, vessels with very high internal surface areas (possibly even textured to provide even more surface area) which could be used for catalyst reactions or even for brewing (I believe there has been some experimental work in brewing using a vessel like this where yeast was in some way integrated into the internal surfaces.

    This is a very neat area of research.

    • by El Torico (732160)
      Hmmm...3d printer porn...internal cavity walls....Yep, that would generate some interest.
      Seriously though, I've been a fan of Additive Manufacturing since I read the article "Print me a Stradivarius" [economist.com] in the Economist last year. I agree, AM is very cool.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 16, 2012 @12:37PM (#39701117) Homepage

    This isn't a new idea. "Lab on a disc" [rsc.org] systems have been used for analysis for years. They use little disposable plastic discs [youtube.com] with complex patterns of channels, some of which have been pre-filled with reagents. The disk is injected with a sample, and then placed in a machine which can rotate it (for mixing) and spin it fast (for centrifuging).

    Even smaller are lab on a chip [labgrab.com] systems, where the device is made by IC fab techniques. These are usually mass-produced for medical applications. The machines used with these consumable components are usually desktop devices, with hand-held portable ones becoming available.

    These microfluidic systems are for analysis, and maybe some biosynthesis. They work on tiny amounts of fluid. Nobody is going to make a chemical manufacturing plant this way.

    The new thing here is making such devices as one-offs for researchers, rather than in quantity.

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