Development of a unique modular distillation column using 3D printing

Saeed Mardani*, Leo S. Ojala, Petri Uusi-Kyyny, Ville Alopaeus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


3D printing is recently used in many fields of technology, from medical science to aerospace and food products. In some cases, this technique is faster and increases the design flexibility in comparison with conventional machining. In this article, the design and manufacturing of a modular distillation column are presented using 3D printing. The flexibility and freedom in 3D model designs and the challenges for developing a small scale distillation column are demonstrated. The column was designed in a coil shape with modular structure to overcome the printing area limitation of the used 3D printer. The chemical compatibility of the printed polymer with several common solvents was examined. A 3D printable packing, and a commercially available stainless steel spring packing were used in the distillation. The column was used to distill a binary mixture of hexane + cyclohexane in full reflux and continuous mode. The heat loss of the column was also measured at the boiling points of hexane and cyclohexane. The composition of reflux and boilup streams were analyzed online using a gas chromatograph equipped with two sampling valves. The temperature of the vapor phase was measured at the top (vapor outlet) and bottom (boilup) of the column.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-148
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Engineering and Processing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Distillation
  • Distillation packing
  • Modular structure


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