Researchers plan to develop a 3D printer that prints graphene

3D printers are becoming compatible with new materials all the time, including metals, paper, resin and even pizza ingredients. So it was only a matter of time before someone decided to pair the sci-fi-like machines with the most sci-fi material out there: graphene.

Mining and technology development company American Graphite Technologies announced this week that partner researchers at the Kharkov Institute of Physics in in Ukraine received final approval to begin researching how to adapt 3D printers to print with graphene.

Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms with impressive physical characteristics. It is stronger than diamond and extremely conductive, which means it could have applications in electronics and solar panels, among other industries. The researchers will also study applications for other nano-scale varieties of carbon.

“Now that we have the approval from the project administrator … we will be gearing up and starting immediately on the project,” CEO Rick Walchuk said in a release. “We have some exciting ideas and if successful, we hope that our developments could open up new and innovative products for the marketplace.”

American Graphite Technologies’ website offers few details on its plans to manufacture and sell thin sheets of graphene, among other graphene technologies, and has provided little further information on the timeline of the 3D printing research. Carbon nanotubes, which are rolled up tubes of graphene, are already used as fillers in other manufacturing materials to add strength to an object. It’s possible that American Graphite Technologies is pursuing a similar application with graphene.