Is there an electrically conductive filament used in 3D printing?
Yes although I’ve never used it. Search eBay for this item number and you will get a general idea of what to look for. 140854851251
Thanks for the information. How is the conductance of this material? Is it possible to print a circuit board with a dual extruder printer?
It might be. Tell you the truth I really don’t know anything about it. I do plan on messing with it sometime in the future. They say it has pretty good conductance though.
I’m sure you could find a sample of it some ware run it through your setup and run a volt meter over it to see what it’s resistance is.
I would probably use another extruder though as it does have some sort of alloy in the mix I don’t know if it would eventually cause problems for your hotend.
It is pretty resistive. You can use it for things like capacitive sensors, but not for carrying current.
The stuff on Ebay lists its resistance as 10k ohms/cm. That’s a pretty bad unit for engineering, but for 3mm filament, that works out to a resistivity of 10000 ohms*(pi*(0.0015m)^2)/0.01m = 7.06 ohm * meters. That’s ~ 8 orders of magnitude less conductive than copper, which wikipedia says has a resistivity of 1.68×10^−8 ohm * meters.
Compare that with the filament developed by these folks, which is 0.09 ohm meters ~ 6.5 orders of magnitude less conductive than copper. However, it has the problem that you can’t seem to actually get it anywhere: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0049365
0.09 ohm meters begins to be interesting in terms of circuit design. You could do sensing and information passing, but not power distribution. A couple more orders of magnitude and you’re there.
Is it possible to use soldering wire? One needs to modify the extruder mechanism.
Check out the research by Rhys Jones. Here’s a starting point:
I’ve wondered about using copper wire off of a reel, automatically cutting it at the end of a trace. We’d still need to attach it to components in some way.
Spot welding wouldn’t require any special materials, but it might damage sensitive components.
If the copper wire was heated, it could be stuck to the underlying plastic.
It looks RepRap society has already thought about most of the possibilities. Wish someday all these efforts are merged into manufacturing complete systems.