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Materials & Assembly
3D Print Your Own Personal Electronics
12/14/2012

A conductive thermoplastic can be used with low-cost, hobbyist 3D printers to produce complete, customized electronic devices, such as this computer game controller.
  (Source: University of Warwick)
A conductive thermoplastic can be used with low-cost, hobbyist 3D printers to produce complete, customized electronic devices, such as this computer game controller.
(Source: University of Warwick)

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Elizabeth M
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The mind boggles
Elizabeth M   12/14/2012 8:41:58 AM
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Wow, what will be available for 3D printing next--a human being?? :) I'm just kidding, of course, but this story is impressive! Printing sure has come a long way from dot-matrix, hasn't it? Look forward to more developments in this area and the potential for doing this commercially someday. If it progresses I forsee a whole new era of at-home inventions and armchair mad professors being inspired!

tekochip
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Re: The mind boggles
tekochip   12/14/2012 10:46:25 AM
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A human, didn't they try that in "Weird Science"? Getting rid of interconnections would be huge, it really consumes alot of space and cost to run wires around a housing.

Cadman-LT
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Great article
Cadman-LT   12/14/2012 10:50:04 AM
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Great article! I love how fast this 3D printing is evolving. I wish they had tech like this when I went to college.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Great article
Ann R. Thryft   12/14/2012 1:11:57 PM
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Thanks, everyone--isn't this fun? I think it was only a matter of time once the industry achieved the ability to "print" flexible electronics via lithography, as DN has covered in the past: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=249722

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   12/14/2012 1:36:27 PM
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I can only imagine how cool it is for college students(and maybe even high school) to be able to design something and have it come to life. 

akwaman
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Re: Great article
akwaman   12/14/2012 2:38:57 PM
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When they say they are trying to make the wires and cables, are they inferring the use of a combination of plastics and sintering printing?  That would be incredible to mix the two technologies, then you could truly create some awsome things.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Great article
Ann R. Thryft   12/14/2012 2:47:26 PM
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akwaman, good question, but the methods for printing connecting devices such as cables and wires was not detailed. I suspect it's still being developed.

akwaman
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Future Implications
akwaman   12/14/2012 4:09:58 PM
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This could be a great breakthrough if we could make the wires and connectors out of continuous piece of metal.  This would surely increase reliability.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Future Implications
Cabe Atwell   12/14/2012 4:43:12 PM
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I suppose one could build everything by the molecule. There have been several developments in the past few years that may lead to such a process.

However, I think at home printing of enclosures is a possibility. However, even the best 3D printing I have felt is not the same as molded plastics. In many cases the molded is far nicer in about every single way.

Like most people, who has the time/energy to print a game controller and assemble it. When one can be bought for cheaper than it costs to print one.

Just a thought.

C

Charles Murray
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Re: Great article
Charles Murray   12/14/2012 6:31:46 PM
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I recall reading about conductive plastics many years ago, but it never occurred to me that they could be used in 3D printing applications. Ann, any idea if this could be used in high-production-volume applications? 

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