3D printing for cyclonic spray chambers in ICP spectrometry†
Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D-printing is an increasingly widespread technique which is often described as a source for rapid prototyping whereas it is a manufacturing process in itself. It is a new tool for instrumental research laboratories which can now easily manufacture by themselves a large variety of devices. This article describes its application to ICP introduction system spray chambers. We undertake to print and study cyclone spray chambers by combining and comparing for the first time 3 different AM processes, 5 materials and 8 designs. The analytical performances of these spray chambers are compared with commercial glass and PFA chambers in terms of signal intensity, stability, oxide ratio, LOD and wash-out time. LODs measured with polymer printed chambers are in the range or even outperform those measured with the glass chamber even though 3D-printed chambers provide lower results in terms of sensitivity than glass. Compared to PFA chambers, the printed chambers are superior in terms of LOD. At low temperature, the printed chambers’ efficiency depends on both AM process and manufacturing material. SLA and FDM printers give lower results in terms of sensitivity but not in LOD than the Polyjet printer. This study also illustrates the influence of the inner shape of the side arm nebulizer and confirms the importance of a free aerosol recirculation current around the nebulizer tip. Transfer tube efficiency is also questioned; it is found to be weakly detrimental to the sensitivity to light elements but shows no influence on heavy ones as well as on the stability or oxide ratio, whatever the element.