The fabrication and assembly of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) components into an integrated structure remains one of the primary challenges preventing the widespread adoption of SOFCs as an energy conversion technology. We present an efficient and highly scalable multi-material process for fabricating SOFCs using a combination of 3D-Painting- a room-temperature, liquid extrusion-based 3D-printing process- and dip-coating of particle-laden, liquid-based 3D-inks. 3D-Painting is used to sequentially deposit anode and cathode functional layer materials without the need to alter printing parameters, allowing unprecedented control over gas channel geometries. Depositing thin, dense layers <100 µm using extrusion-based 3D-printing is impractical, so these inks are re-purposed for the production of mechanically robust, controllably thick, multi-material films via dip-coating to be used as electrolytes and interconnects. The 3D-inks used for both 3D-Painting and dip-coating are synthesized through facile, room-temperature mixing of an elastomeric binder, organic solvent mixture, and the particles of interest (e.g. SOFC material powders). The volume percentage of particles contained in the ink are tailored to control shrinkage and porosity during firing; optimization of the particle content to achieve uniform shrinkage is critical to prevent warping and cracking during cell co-firing and to ensure optimal performance of each component. The microstructural and electrochemical characteristics of the fired cells are analyzed and compared with cells produced entirely using tape-casting techniques. We demonstrate that this technique is highly scalable and useful for fabricating monolithic, planar SOFCs of various sizes without the need for cumbersome support materials. Learning Objectives:
- Describe current approaches to extend additive manufacturing and 3D-printing technologies to ceramic materials.
- Understand state-of-the-art research into multi-material 3D-printing, with focus on its application to fabricating solid oxide fuel cells.
- Gain an appreciation for multi-material and multi-ceramic device 3D-printing as a future direction for the Additive Manufacturing and 3D-printing community as a whole.