Self Assembly as an Additive Manufacturing Process: Opportunities and Obstacles

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Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



While additive manufacturing processes typically integrate functionally identical building blocks, biological growth depends on the precise assembly of molecular building blocks to achieve the remarkable functionality observed in living systems. This paper considers potential performance benefits and challenges of producing systems by controlled assembly of functional components. The work will consider the impact of self-assembly errors in two energy applications: miniature thermoelectric devices and microscale photovoltaic cells. In both, high performance is possible by assembling microscale components. While assembly errors can reduce system performance, performance models show that high levels of system performance can be achieved through system design and/or self-assembly process control.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

2010 Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, p. 747-755