Over the course of the past two years, I’ve used OpenSCAD to design a gas/vacuum cell that can support a pressed silica nanoparticle pellet in front of a variety of spectroscopy systems. The core of the cell was 3D printed in aluminum by Shapeways, with some subsequent facing on our lathe to get good seals with the O-rings. This first version is designed to fit into our fluorimeter.
After using the first cell for a year, I realized I also wanted to be able to attach it to a fiber-optic-based spectrometer. Here, you can see the second cell attached to our Schlenk line.
In addition to photography, I’ve been exploring 3D printing in the past few years. I’ve found that it’s a great route to making small objects to support my science work. In this case, I was developing a holder to support a 12.7 mm pressed solid sample pellet inside the space normally occupied by a 10-cm pathlength liquid-handling cuvette. The result is this odd rectangular shape that unlocks to hold the “too wide” pellet diagonally—thanks, square root of two!
In these forms, I was working with a variety of materials, including glass-reinforced nylon, lost-wax-cast brass, and a bronze/steel powder combination.