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Photos: Making small parts by printing them

By printing small parts, start-up EoPlex hopes to cut the cost of making them.
By Bill Detwiler, Contributor on
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1 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNET

Small, printed parts

Small parts made by EoPlex with an offset printer. Each side of the squares measures 30 millimeters. By printing such parts, the company hopes to cut the cost of making them.

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Printing template

A printing template that can produce 1,000 components at once. In this process, components are built up layer by layer. Each layer consists of polymers and another material, such as a ceramic or metal. When heated, the polymer vanishes, leaving a pattern.

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Rendering of micro fluidic device

No, it's not George Hardie's sleeve art for the latest Pink Floyd album, it's an anonymous rendering of a micro fluidic device, for transporting or sampling drops of fluid.

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A printed micro fluidic device

And here's the finished device as printed by EoPlex. One advantage of printing over manufacturing is that the design can be changed rapidly.

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Fuel cell

A fuel cell. Methanol cycles through channels inside the fuel cell reformer (the white housing) until it hits a membrane. The reaction with the membrane releases electrons. The reformer pictured here consists of a few hundred layers of ceramic and metal materials printed successively.

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Another view of the fuel cell

Another view of the fuel cell.

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The EoPlex manufacturing line

The EoPlex manufacturing line. Costing about $1 million, it is relatively inexpensive.

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