Newly published research details lithium-ion batteries created using 3D printing technologies. The new method is capable of producing these batteries in nearly any shape, opening the door for unique designs that could bring higher capacities to consumer devices. In their typically available form factors, these batteries are either rectangular or cylindrical.
Lithium-ion batteries, despite their potential volatility, are commonly used in consumer electronic devices, including smartphones, smartwatches, and headphones. Smartwatches are a unique example of the potential for oddly-shaped li-ion batteries due to their small size. Current models are limited to only small batteries due to the small body of each watch.
Batteries fabricated in unique shapes could change that by producing energy storage devices that wrap around the user’s wrist; these could be embedded in a wrist watch’s band, for example, greatly increasing the device’s capacity without requiring a comically large body.
3D printers utilize a poly lactic acid material called PLA, which is not ordinarily conductive. The researchers behind the study changed that, though, by infusing the material with an electrolyte solution that boosted iconic conductivity. Carbon nanotubes and graphene were both utilized, as well, the end result being a printed battery.
The image above shows a wristband printed by the researchers, which features both an LED light and the fabricated battery. Future work may include developing ways to increase the printed battery’s capacity for more practical devices like consumer gadgets.