3D printing for future membrane fabrication

(L-R) Dr Darrell Patterson; Research Associates, Yen Chua & Nicholas Low; and Professor Davide Mattia.

Researchers at the University of Bath have recently suggested developments in 3D printing techniques could open the door to the advancement of membrane capabilities. This work is part of the University’s Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering (CASE) and is the first time the properties of different 3D printing techniques available to membrane fabrication have been assessed.

The use of 3D printing techniques offers novel membrane preparation techniques that are able to produce membranes of different shapes, types and designs, which can be more precisely designed, fabricated and controlled than any other membrane fabrication method currently available.

The paper, which evaluates existing knowledge of the advantages and drawbacks of different 3D printing methods as well as the potential developments of membrane fabrication, identifies a bright future in which 3D printing will enable innovative and far more accurate membranes. Director of the Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering at the University of Bath, Dr Darrell Patterson, commented: “This review is the first to explore the possibility and challenges of using 3D printing for producing separation membranes. Although 3D printing technology is not quite well enough developed to yet produce large scale membranes that will be cost competitive with existing products, this work does signal what the future possibilities are with 3D printing, to produce membranes beyond that which are currently available, including controlled complex pore structures, integrated surface patterns and membranes based on nature.”