Review: 3D Printing in Chemical Sciences, Applications across chemistry

This book is one of the very first of few books in chemical sciences which explores 3D printing applications across chemical sciences in detail. The author took a well-balanced approach and included examples on several topics relating to chemical sciences. 3D printing is an exciting and emerging technology, gaining attention around the world for its uses in teaching, research, and industry. The impact of this technology in automobile, health, and engineering sectors are already well established; its application potential within chemical sciences is evident as dozens of new publications appear every week. The book will be a great resource for students, teachers, and researchers in chemical sciences. This book contains 250 pages that are organized in eight easy to follow chapters. The chapters of this book range from approximately 15 to 43 pages in length. The chapters comprise of an introduction, an outlook and a value-added summary of the presented work, followed by citations.
The first chapter provides a historical perspective, compiling 3D printing history concisely and contrasting available techniques in detail (Table 1.1). One helpful feature is a compilation of commonly used 3D printers in chemical sciences (Table 1.2) with the models’ highest resolution and approximate cost, indeed very useful information for the reader and a strong point of this chapter. An outlook of the 3D revolution, supported with market projection data is also provided.
Chapter two describes examples of 3D printing used in micro- and macrofluidic devices to eliminate the time-consuming and labor-intensive multistep production process for engineers. 3D printing offers a specific advantage in terms of microfluid prep. This chapter also covers the use of 3D printing for the fabrication of complex fluid control devices, with potential use in replacing conventional microfabrication techniques. Table 2.2 presents a nice view of 3D technology used for micro- and macrofluidic devices.
In the third chapter, the author explains developmental applications and examples of 3D printed analytical detectors, as well as optical and electrochemical detector designs. This chapter is especially fascinating because it includes examples of 3D printed smartphone interfaces used in biomolecule and chemicals detection essays using smartphone apps. They deliver sensitive luminescence tests even with a low-resolution smartphone camera. This chapter also includes the applications of 3D printing in electrochemical detectors cells, electrodes, and electrodes arrays.
Chapter four covers the applications of 3D printing in analytical chemistry and the use of 3D printing technology in fabrication and extraction devices. This chapter covers solid-phase extraction using 3D printed microfluid devices as sorbents and bioreactors, and explains the applications of 3D printing in analytical detectors for several liquid chromatographic techniques. This chapter could have been combined with chapter two because of its overlap in coverage.
Chapter five describe the various 3D printing technologies used in the pharmaceutical industry, from oral to transdermal drug delivery, for customized formulations using various 3D printing techniques. This chapter explores how 3D printing technology can be used to develop new and personalized medicine to support patient compliance. Examples of interesting research, such as the successful replication of conventional dosages using control-release methods and adjusting printing parameters, are included.
Chapter six delves into the biochemical applications of 3D printing in cellular analysis, rapid diagnostics pharmacokinetics, and the pharmacodynamics profiling of drugs, and how 3D printing aids the greater understanding of complex biological and biochemical systems. This technique offers extensive design freedom, customization, and economic value to the applied models. This chapter also describes the biotoxicity of 3D polymers and resins that are currently used for 3D printing. The strong measures that are suggested to minimize the biotoxicity are the highlight of the chapter. A few methods are discussed as to how to increase material biocompatibility.
Chapter seven explains the applications of 3D printing in synthetic and physical chemistry. It is interesting to read that 3D printed batch reactor are one of the most explored application, which provides the flexibility to modulate the reaction outcome just by altering the reactor configuration. It significantly reduced the requirement for chemical handling and special equipment, but provided similar products during tested reactions. The author also explains the use of a 3D printed reactor for nano-ESI in spectroscopic studies. The chapter also discusses in detail the thermal stability and solvent-resistance of most commonly available 3D printing materials. Limitations of 3D printing materials can be critical, but we hope this challenge can be overcome by more stable and solvent resistant material inventions in the future.
The last chapter of the book discusses the usage cases of 3D printing in chemical education. 3D printing has made it simpler to create customized educational material of complex theories and to understand difficult concepts in chemistry, like molecular complexes, crystals structures, and conformation, by enhancing students’ hands-on learning experience. The authors provide a nice collection of resources for 3D printable chemistry models, like the MolPrint3D. This chapter also includes software available to convert CIF and PDB files directly to STL, such as NIH 3D Print Exchange, an open-access interactive resource. This chapter also covers an important aspect of 3D printing technology, 3D printing safety, and provides literature resources for safer printing practices.
In conclusion, this book would be a great addition to any chemistry centered makerspace. This book is a timely resource which provides a comprehensive review of the applications of 3D printing across chemical sciences. The entire book is well illustrated with 3D models discussed in the chapter text. I would highly recommend this for students and chemists interested in experimenting with 3D printing technology inclusion in chemical science education or research.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Vipul Gupta, Pavel Nesterenko, and Brett Paull

Publication Date: 
Monday, April 1, 2019