The recent meeting, ‘Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century: The role of 3D Printing’, proved to be a most interesting and stimulating day for all – whether experienced in the technology or not. At the conclusion of the symposium it was clear that chemistry has much to gain from Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology and, equally, AM has much to gain from chemistry.
The talks covered a wide range of topics across the field of AM, which includes 3D Printing as one mode. The delegates heard about current and future applications, the challenges with the methods and materials that can be used, the moral imperative to be able to ‘unmake’ what we make, and the pros and cons of the business case for using AM. The clear progress in using AM to enhance the way chemistry is carried out, for example through rational reactor design and by preparation of structured catalysts, was presented.
It is evident that the potential for AM in collaboration with chemistry has only just begun to be explored. Chemistry has a key role in widening the range and functionality of the materials that can be used, whilst AM offers new ways to approach chemistry such as through the manufacture of complex structures.
The crucial interplay between Design, Materials and Processes, central to success, is best exploited by collaboration across disciplines, bringing together chemists with engineers, materials scientists and others. Dial-a-Molecule is able to offer a small number of bursaries from an Interdisciplinary Mobility Fund to those inspired to collaborate in this fascinating area.