March 5, 2024

3D Printing to the Rescue: Shrinking Vacuum Pumps for Bigger Discoveries

MIT researchers utilized additive production to take a major action towards resolving this problem. They 3D printed a miniature version of a type of air pump, called a peristaltic pump, that is about the size of a human fist.
Their pump can develop and preserve a vacuum that has an order of magnitude lower pressure than a so-called dry, rough pump, which does not require liquid to develop a vacuum and can run at air pressure. The scientists special design, which can be printed in one pass on a multimaterial 3D printer, avoids fluid or gas from leaking while reducing heat from friction during the pumping procedure. This increases the lifetime of the device.
This gadget, which is just the size of a human fist, performed better than other types of pumps at producing and preserving dry vacuum, which is crucial for enabling a mass spectrometer to efficiently determine the molecules in a sample. Credit: Courtesy of the scientists
This pump could be integrated into a portable mass spectrometer used to monitor soil contamination in separated parts of the world. The gadget could likewise be perfect for use in geological study equipment bound for Mars, considering that it would be less expensive to launch the light-weight pump into space.
” We are talking about very economical hardware that is also really capable,” says Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, a principal scientist in MITs Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) and senior author of a paper explaining the brand-new pump. “With mass spectrometers, the 500-pound gorilla in the space has actually always been the problem of pumps.
Velásquez-García is signed up with on the paper by lead author Han-Joo Lee, a former MIT postdoc; and Jorge Cañada Pérez-Sala, an electrical engineering and computer technology graduate trainee. The paper was released just recently in Additive Manufacturing.
Pump issues
As a sample is pumped through a mass spectrometer, it is stripped of electrons to turn its atoms into ions. An electromagnetic field manipulates these ions in a vacuum so their masses can be figured out.
Peristaltic pumps are frequently used to move liquids or gases that would pollute the pumps elements, such as reactive chemicals. They are also utilized to pump fluids that require to be kept clean, like blood. The substance being pumped is completely consisted of within a versatile tube that is looped around a set of rollers. The rollers squeeze the tube versus its housing as they rotate. The pinched parts of the tube expand in the wake of the rollers, producing a vacuum that draws the liquid or gas through the tube.
While these pumps do create a vacuum, design issues have limited their usage in mass spectrometers. This issue can be conquered by running the pump rapidly, requiring the fluid through faster than it can leak out.
An additive service
He and his team rethought the peristaltic pump design from the bottom up, looking for ways they could utilize additive manufacturing to make improvements. By using a multimaterial 3D printer, they were able to make the versatile tube out of an unique type of hyperelastic product that can withstand a huge quantity of contortion.
Through an iterative style procedure, they figured out that including notches to the walls of the tube would decrease the stress on the product when squeezed. With notches, the tube product does not need to rearrange to neutralize the force from the rollers.
The manufacturing accuracy paid for by 3D printing enabled the researchers to produce the exact notch size needed to eliminate the gaps. They were also able to vary televisions thickness so the walls are more powerful in areas where adapters attach, additional minimizing tension on the material.
Utilizing a multimaterial 3D printer, they printed the whole tube in one pass, which is necessary because postassembly can introduce problems that can cause leaks. To do this, they needed to find a method to print the narrow, flexible tube vertically while avoiding it from wobbling throughout the process. In the end, they created a lightweight structure that supports television throughout printing but can be easily peeled off later without harming the gadget.
If you do this work in a tidy space, where a lot of these miniaturized pumps are made, it takes a lot of time and a lot of cash. In this case, we can print our pump in a matter of hours, and every time it can be a new style,” Velásquez-García says.
Portable, yet performant
When they evaluated their final design, the scientists found that it had the ability to produce a vacuum that had an order of magnitude lower pressure than cutting edge diaphragm pumps. Lower pressure yields a higher-quality vacuum. To reach that same vacuum with standard diaphragm pumps, one would need to link 3 in a series, Velásquez-García states.
The pump reached an optimum temperature of 50 degrees Celsius, half that of modern pumps used in other research studies, and just required half as much force to totally seal television.
” Fluid movement is a huge obstacle when trying to make portable and little equipment, and this work elegantly exploits the advantages of multimaterial 3D printing to develop a highly integrated and functional pump to produce a vacuum for gas control. Not just is the pump smaller sized than practically anything comparable, but it creates vacuum 100 times lower also,” states Michael Breadmore, teacher in analytical chemistry at the University of Tasmania, who was not involved with this work. “This style is only possible by the usage of 3D printers and nicely shows the power of being able to style and produce in 3D.”
In the future, the scientists plan to check out methods to further lower the maximum temperature, which would make it possible for the tube to activate faster, developing a much better vacuum and increasing the flow rate. They are likewise working to 3D print an entire miniaturized mass spectrometer. As they establish that device, they will continue fine-tuning the specs of the peristaltic pump.
” Some individuals think that when you 3D print something there must be some type of tradeoff. Here our group has shown that is not the case. It truly is a brand-new paradigm. Additive manufacturing is not going to resolve all the problems of the world, however it is an option that has genuine legs,” Velásquez-García states.
Recommendation: “Compact peristaltic vacuum pumps by means of multi-material extrusion” by Han-Joo Lee, Jorge Cañada and Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, 21 March 2023, Additive Manufacturing.DOI: 10.1016/ j.addma.2023.103511.
This work was supported, in part, by the Empiriko Corporation.

MIT researchers have used additive production to produce a little, inexpensive vacuum pump that could lead to the advancement of portable mass spectrometers. Their pump can create and keep a vacuum that has an order of magnitude lower pressure than a so-called dry, rough pump, which does not need liquid to create a vacuum and can run at climatic pressure. Peristaltic pumps are typically used to move liquids or gases that would contaminate the pumps components, such as reactive chemicals. While these pumps do create a vacuum, style issues have actually limited their usage in mass spectrometers.” Fluid motion is a big challenge when trying to make portable and small devices, and this work elegantly exploits the advantages of multimaterial 3D printing to create an extremely incorporated and practical pump to develop a vacuum for gas control.

MIT researchers have actually designed a way to 3D print a miniaturized peristaltic vacuum pump, which might be a key element of a portable mass spectrometer. Credit: Courtesy of the scientists
The gadget would be a key component of a portable mass spectrometer that could assist keep an eye on toxins, carry out medical diagnoses in remote areas, or test Martian soil.
MIT researchers have actually used additive production to produce a little, economical air pump that might cause the advancement of portable mass spectrometers. The 3D printed mini peristaltic pump, created with a hyperelastic material tube including notches, overcomes standard style concerns, lowers heat, and increases the gadgets life expectancy. This might allow monitoring of pollutants or medical diagnoses in remote locations, and soil screening on Mars.
Mass spectrometers are very accurate chemical analyzers that have many applications, from evaluating the safety of drinking water to discovering toxins in a clients blood. Developing an inexpensive, portable mass spectrometer that could be deployed in remote places stays a difficulty, partly due to the trouble of miniaturizing the vacuum pump it requires to run at a low cost.