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Print Your Own Labware, Catalysts Included

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the tsa-responds-with-blanket-container-ban dept.

Science 33

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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33 comments

Stoners rejoice! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700121)

This is sure to lead to some fantastic bongs.

Re:Stoners rejoice! (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39700239)

I was planning on building an Erlenmeyer flask shaped like a magic mushroom forest, man.

Paywalls (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700145)

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 (4, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39700161)

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 (3, Interesting)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39702029)

"...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 (3, Interesting)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.....

Re:Paywalls (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39701703)

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.

Re:Paywalls (1)

hannza (2480742) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707511)

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.

when i was a kid (2)

madmayr (1969930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39700149)

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

Re:when i was a kid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700795)

I'm winded just from reading your post. Broken period key?

Re:when i was a kid (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39701631)

The shift too.

Re:when i was a kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39702167)

He didn't have enough parts in his electronics kit to build a full keyboard, you insensitive clod.

Re:when i was a kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39701611)

When are you going to get a book about English grammar?

Printing conductive parts you say.... (2)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39700169)

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.

3d printers civilian forfeiture as drug lab (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:3d printers civilian forfeiture as drug lab (2)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39701049)

Keck clip they are.
While these are almost certainly patented, maybe by changing the material clips could be printed without legal trouble. Keck clips can fall apart if exposed to (eg) HCl gas, so printing PTFE versions would be useful.
I like the adaptor idea - and it could be extended to any labware if someone figures out how to print glass. No more searching for that B24 condensor!

Misread title (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700199)

It's Monday morning, I'm tired, and I pulled up my feed to see "Print your own lawyer".

3D Bitcoin printing. (2)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39700265)

I expect to see a Slashdot article on this in the near future.

Re:3D Bitcoin printing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700497)

Yeah yeah we know you didn't like the cascade of bitcoin articles. But 3d printing is some real cool science, and deserves almost every article posted about it.

Re:3D Bitcoin printing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700649)

"But 3d printing is some real cool science, and deserves almost every article posted about it."

But with 2D printers you can print money, stock certificates, Identity cards...

Re:3D Bitcoin printing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700667)

But paper/planar objects are more than an atom thick!!!

Awesome idea. (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#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".

Re:Awesome idea. (1)

Epimer (1337967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39701963)

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...

lab glassware (1)

hannza (2480742) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707575)

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

Re:lab glassware (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39708229)

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 washing out beakers or glassware in the middle of an experiment, and then using them for other parts of it - it's a sure fire way to cause contamination either with precursors or just soap. You also probably don't want to discard anything until you've run the analysis which might be a few days away. So say you go through, 5 steps needing a beaker of something. That's 5 beakers you need to pre-wash, dry, and then hold on to to stop some idiot from making them dirty. And that might be for 1 sample. You probably need to do 2 or 3. So that's 15 right there, not accounting for the number in excess you need to not deplete stocks due to breakage or unscheduled use or whatever. Multiply by 30 people and you get the picture.

Re:Awesome idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39703135)

There is nothing novel about this, we 3D print our own "labware" and vessels that are either too expensive or too complex to make. I know other groups that have incorporated active chemical layers into 3D printed vessels, flow chemistry, and lab-on-a-chip applications. These procedures normally appear as a footnote or ESI of a paper, rather than making a headline grabbing article...

Relliable Printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39700407)

Now if someone could invent a reliable printer that just prints black and white without crashing after six months.

Nice...but not hard to imagine. (3, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39700673)

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.

Re:Nice...but not hard to imagine. (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39701689)

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.

Lab on a disc technology (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39701117)

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.

Re:Lab on a disc technology (1)

Wookie_CD (639534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705119)

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

This seems accurate, but I'd go a bit further: by having on-the-fly generation from digital source, labware design can respond to on-the-spot needs in ways that generic or prefab labware can not.

By having the digital source generated by a clever program (rather than just drawn up in CAD or what-have-you), new possibilities would emerge. Someone could fire up their reaction vessel program and print a vessel optimised for certain characteristics which are unique to the experiment they want to run at that time.

Reminds me some lab experiements from 90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39709617)

Science 269, 1857-1860 (1995)
J. Phys. Chem. 100, 18970-18975 (1996)

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