3D-printing has been one of the main technologies used in my research. I usually use it to prototype robots that would automate a process, like an experiment. In this case it is quite different, and I am very happy to be an author in a paper with a lot of 3D-printing where I did not actually had 3D-print anything myself.
The idea behind the paper is simple. 3D-printer can enable anyone to manufacture pieces that can perform different actions. In the case of this paper, we wanted to manufacture devices that could perform chemical reactions. The problem is that if you want chemists to use it, not only they need to be OK using a 3D-printer, but they also need to know how to use CAD software, and this last step severly limits the size of your potential user-base.
In this research we designed a piece of software that can make very easy to design different devices that can perform chemical reactions. You don’t need to know anything about CAD. You only need to click options through a bit of menus and boom, done.
The name of the paper is “Automatic generation of 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis digitization using ChemSCAD”, and it was published on the journal ACS Central Science.
My work mostly consisted on developing the software after the original developer left the group. There was a lot of time involved to reading and understanding his code, which is one of the less rewarding things in computing science, but it was good experience!