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Engineers Pave the Way Towards 3-D Printing of Personal Electronics

Simon Leigh of the University of Warwick

University of Warwick researcher Simon Leigh holding a game controller produced on a 3-D printer.

Credit: University of Warwick

University of Warwick researchers say they have developed a simple and inexpensive conductive plastic composite that can be used to produce electronic devices using 3-D printers. The material, known as carbomorph, allows users to lay down electronic tracks and sensors as part of a 3-D printed structure, enabling the printer to create touch-sensitive areas that can be connected to a simple electronic circuit board. The researchers already have used the material to print objects with embedded flex sensors and touch-sensitive buttons.

"In the long term, this technology could revolutionize the way we produce the world around us, making products such as personal electronics a lot more individualized and unique and in the process reducing electronic waste," says Warwick researcher Simon Leigh. The printed sensors can be monitored using existing open source electronics and freely available programing libraries.

Leigh notes that the method is advantageous because the sockets for connection to equipment such as interface electronics can be printed out instead of connected using conductive glues or paints.

From University of Warwick
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