Engineers Pave the Way towards 3D Printing of Personal Electronics
Todd Grimm posted on December 13, 2012 |

SElectrically conductive 3D-printed partcientists at the University of Warwick are developing new materials that could one day allow people to print out custom-designed personal electronics, such as games controllers fit perfectly to their hand shape. Researchers have created a simple and inexpensive conductive plastic composite that can be used to produce electronic devices using the latest generation of low-cost 3D printers designed for use by hobbyists and even in the home.

The material, nicknamed ‘carbomorph’, enables users to lay down electronic tracks and sensors as part of a 3D-printed structure – allowing the printer to create touch-sensitive areas for example, which can then be connected to a simple electronic circuit board. So far the team has used the material to print objects with embedded flex sensors or with touch-sensitive buttons.

The research was led by Dr Simon Leigh in the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick. Dr Leigh said, “It’s always great seeing the complex and intricate models of devices such as mobile phones or television remote controls that can be produced with 3D printing, but that’s it, they are invariably models that don’t really function. We set about trying to find a way in which we could actually print out a functioning electronic device from a 3D printer.”

This research is detailed in the study, A simple, low-cost conductive composite material for 3D printing of electronic sensors, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Press release

Website

Recommended For You