I’ve just begun my sixth summer participating in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, funded by the National Science Foundation on campus at Notre Dame. Unlike previous summers, where I have worked predominantly within a research laboratory, this summer my work will occur within the ceramics studio on campus. My goal: build and modify a rostock delta 3D printer so that it prints using a ceramic-slurry feedstock. Not only is this exciting because I get to build something, it is doubly exciting because a ceramic printer offers the capability to print solid-state battery electrolyte. In essence, you could develop a slurry such that you could custom print lithium ion batteries to any shape/size/specification for any application, as well as a ceramic mug to boot! And if you can modify it to feed ceramics, there is no limit to the types of materials that you could feed into the printer.
Tomorrow we travel to Goshen to pick up the printer parts, and then begin assembly, which is expected to take between 1 and 2 weeks. From there we calibrate the machine, perform some test prints using traditional plastic filament, and then replace the printing nozzle with a specialized ceramic-slurry variant. I’ll be working on this project with Alexa Kutch, a math teacher from New Prairie High School on this project, as well as two graduate students from Dr. Paul McGinn’s research group on campus at Notre Dame. As usual, I’ll be documenting my work here via future posts, so subscribe if this kind of thing interests you. I’ll also be tweeting my day-to-day activities using the hashtag #ndret, so feel free to follow along via twitter.