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3D Printer Lays Down Functioning Circuitry Alongside Thermoplastic 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the closer-to-self-replication dept.
Lucas123 writes: "The Rabbit Proto is a new 3D printer attachment that can be added to a RepRap printer to create circuitry right alongside an existing thermoplastic extruder. While still in prototype, the printer head is expected to ship this summer. The creators of the Rabbit Proto, a group of Standford graduate students, have already printed working prototypes, such as a game controller. So far, the syringe-like printer head has used silver-filled silicon to create circuitry, but the engineers are now working with conductive inks made with graphite. The Rabbit Proto head unit can be pre-ordered for $350, or you can purchase a fully-assembled RepRap 3D printer with the Rabbit Proto head for $2,499."

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3D Printer Lays Down Functioning Circuitry Alongside Thermoplastic

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  • by mpoulton (689851) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:17PM (#46845683)
    "the syringe-like printer head has used silver-filled silicon to create circuitry"

    No, it didn't. That's SILICONE not silicon. I mean, come on. This is a technical article on a technical website. Can't we at least get basic chemistry right? Do you fill your car's gas tank with carbon? If there's one damn place on the internet where people can be expected to know enough about science to see the difference between a hard, shiny metallic element and a class of clear rubbery compounds that happen to contain that element, it should be here.
    • Sounds like "Real Housewives..."

    • by Lucas123 (935744)
      Get over yourself. It was a typo.
    • by Khyber (864651)

      "No, it didn't. That's SILICONE not silicon."

      What in the hell do you think silicone is made from?

      Hint: There's a reason silicone lubes rip many rubberized sex toys apart, and it's not the suspension solvent of cyclopentasiloxane.

  • Needs to be about one tenth of the price before it will make much sense for anyone but people with money to burn to get one
    • Needs to be about one tenth of the price before it will make much sense for anyone but people with money to burn to get one

      Oh, yeah? Well, my 3-D printer is smarter then your honor student!

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      Seems this day and age of super-cheap gadgetry has made many forget that technology is not merely pulled out of some engineer's ass.
      Of course it needs to come down in price, and it will in about 10 years from now after they are refined, able to be cheaply made and useful enough to everyday people to attract substantial sales volumes.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Even at the current price there are businesses that would be interested for rapid prototyping.

  • Circuity? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:34PM (#46845763)

    It calls this functional circuitry. They laid down 1/4" wide conductive paths. Basically is just 5 wire pathways. How do you connect components like resistors? You can't solder them. This is basically worthless.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      I'm thinking of a much much cheaper alternative to this printing machine for connecting components. It would have flexible copper center covered with rubber or plastic insulator, I'm thinking a lot of the stuff could be wound around a cylindrical holder. Maybe we could call these things electron-pipes or electro-threads and sell it by the unit length.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      "How do you connect components like resistors? You can't solder them. "

      Uh, yea, you sure as fuck can solder to graphite ink traces. I did it today. Flux is a magical thing. Perhaps you should get your IPC J-STD-001 certification before talking nonsense.

      • No one mentioned graphite, not in the article, not in the parent post. You can't solder to graphite. You use carbon-filled glue for that. Your posts read like the violent ravings of a lunatic.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          "You can't solder to graphite."

          You're dead wrong, as I stated, I did it earlier yesterday. You can't solder to PENCIL graphite because of other present impurities. You can solder to pure graphite. How do you think older linear variable resistors (like those used in 80s analog synthesizers) got made?

          • They were printed on the board copper after. There is no soldering. I don't know what "linear variable resistors from the '80s" have to do with anything, since they aren't soldered either, usually they're glued or crimped to. Much like pots are still today, or keypads, etc. You think those things used "pure" graphite? Then how, pray tell, did they get the different resistance values in the same package size?

            Anyways, like I said, I've read your posts, and you seem like either a violent lunatic, or a serious

          • Another problem with your posts is that you often misuse simple technical terms, which suggests you are either completely ignorant or refuse to use the proper terminology. See, I think you meant SLIDER POTS when you said "linear" because you mentioned a musical instrument.

            Also, when you say "older", are you implying that newer ones AREN'T soldered (not that they ever were?) Here's a look inside a slider pot:

            http://image.made-in-china.com... [made-in-china.com]

            You see any solder, micronuts? The graphite paste is printed right o

      • I'd honestly like to know what you're using. Which solder (or at least the metallurgical content) and which specific flux. I have to connect to carbon conductive inks printed on PVDF and Mylar. We're constantly having issues with connection failures when the product is put into the vibration tester.
  • Actual examples (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:41PM (#46845793)

    How about closeups of circuits made with this device? The demo vidio does not show the actual conductors. Sure, it may be able to throw down a few crude conductors but that is far from "complex circuits". To me this is yet another marketing post to get pre-orders on something that really does not work yet.

    • by NoKaOi (1415755)

      How about closeups of circuits made with this device? The demo vidio does not show the actual conductors. Sure, it may be able to throw down a few crude conductors but that is far from "complex circuits". To me this is yet another marketing post to get pre-orders on something that really does not work yet.

      There's also nothing there to show that they did anything innovative. Dual extrusion is nothing new, and conductive filament is already available (though I don't know how high resistance it is). So what if one of the extruders happens to be extruding a conductive material? Is there something really innovative about the material? About how it's extruded? If there is, I can't find anything to suggest what it is.

      Also, how am I supposed to solder components onto it? Considering a soldering iron runs aroun

  • What would be great would be if this also had the ability to pull from a pile of stock parts, Atmega, arm chips, resistors, capacitors, etc. So that it could then put together a complete circuit, just squishing in the parts as needed during the printing process. To me the first real generation would be when I could print a new remote control.

    The second generation would be when I could print a crappy cellphone. Or a game boy. Or a near perfect duplicate of a TI-89

    And the third generation would be when I
    • by polymeris (902231)

      At least resistors should be able to be printed directly: just vary the thickness of the layer of resistant material. Not sure about inductors/capacitors, yet alone active components.

      • I'm thinking that with a nice stock of just the right set of capacitors and resistors that by playing little games with series and parallel that almost any value could be obtained. Then with some ICs that are arduino flexible, some FPGAs and whatnot that almost any device could be made. The idea would be that eventually the values available would be somewhat standardized (like a socket set or a screwdriver set). Then super specialized components would still be of a known design.

        So you would tell your pri
  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:13PM (#46846285)

    Being able to print with essentially two different polymer heads is interesting, but not really all that impressive.

    I would be substantially more impressed with a combination of a polymer extruder head, a copper wire feed apparatus that can slowly meter out and cut thin copper wire (non-lacquered), a non-heated extruder filled with silver solder paste, a strong IR lightsource that can flow the solder paste, and a pick and place arm.

    To get clean copper traces embedded in the ABS plastic substrate, you just print channels and "wrap" bosses, anchor the wire at one end, spool it out while taught and sinch it up against the printed plastic bosses, then anchor at the other end, then cut.

    One could print multiple layers of ABS substrate, embed multiple layers of wire traces, (MADE OF SOLID WIRE, not high resistance silicone) then paint, pick and place components, and IR beam between layers.

    I really don't see why such a thing would be at all impossible to make. the 3d printer people need to up their game.

    • Why?

      You can already do that with blank PC boards, etching acid, software like Eagle, Orcad and such. Much cheaper and not that hard to do.

      • by wierd_w (1375923)

        This way, whole ICs and other active components could be completely embedded in the ABS plastic. It would also allow structural designs not attainable with flat, 2D PCBs. (Say, wrapped around a cylinder, or inside a sphere.)

        example applications: fully waterproofed electronics, devices in novel shapes, devices with large wirewound active antennae, (say, to exploit getting low voltage power from AM radio signals with electronically tunable coils) or simply just embedding copper filaments inside 3D printed o

  • That printing quality made me depressed. I know the raw materials needed are finicky and expensive by comparison, but why are all these low resolution injection printers getting all the attention when high resolution powder sintering and UV/near-UV curable plastic printers actually produce results that look useful.

    Also, for the number of buttons on that controller, someone needs to take DC and digital circuits 101 and 102. An Arduino with that many leads for 6 buttons?!?... I bet they would build a keyboa

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