3D Printing & Imaging Technology
New Kickstarter Promises “World’s Most Conductive Filament”

 

PrintedCircuit

For a few years now, many of us in the 3D Printing community have been eagerly awaiting a highly-conductive filament that would allow us to print circuits as part of our 3D printed projects. Now a new kickstarter is promising a filament that is “1,000 times more electrically conductive” than previous filaments that have come to market. Using a dual extrusion machine and their new filament, the team at Functionalize has already created demos of a 3D printed flashlight and a magnetic levitation device.

Levitaion
3D Printed Levitator Prototype

There are a range of rewards available to backers including 3D printed circuits, spools of filament, and maker kits that include not only filament, but also example circuits. Functionalize is hoping that these rewards – and the promise of being able to print highly functional items – will help them make their requested $100,000 in the next 30 days.

One of the first examples of conductive filaments and their potential came in 2012 as a research paper that released experiments using PCL plastic (Shapelock) mixed with carbon powder. The research included examples of 3D printed flashlights along with printable sensors. Unfortunately, the research from this paper never really brought a conductive material to market, and those who have been interested in testing the possibilities of this technology have been left to wait for something else. Hopefully this kickstarter will be the solution we have been waiting for.

 

0 thoughts on “New Kickstarter Promises “World’s Most Conductive Filament”

  1. Dude, that’s sweet. Print me a 1in by 2in led/light strip that is flush with the surface you stick it to and my IoT company will be buying container loads from you. yes, we are backed.

    1. You probably could make a much more conductive extruded filament using Wire-EDM spool of wire, available down to .001″ in diameter. (One one-thousandth of an inch). I have run a wire edm machine for years, and the SCRAP it generates from use of conductive wire measures a whopping .010″ diameter, since my machine happens to be running that diameter of brass wire on this current job. A high speed chopper takes the ‘used” wire as it burns thru steel workpiece, and cuts it into tiny pieces and dumps them in a trash bucket. It would be a simple matter to create take virgin brass or copper wire of .001’ diameter, run it intentionally thru a chopper and create little pieces of copper that measure .001″ x .001″ dimensioned cylinders.

      Here is a link on eBay for today’s offering of conductive spooled EDM wire which as you can see sell for very little per pound:

      Powdered copper is available, and could be blended with PLA as it is manufactured, creating a conductive PLA filament that is far more conductive than the material described by the folks proposal in the Kickstarter campaign.

      http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR10.TRC1.A0.H0.Xwire+edm+brass+scrap&_nkw=wire+edm+brass+scrap&_sacat=0

        1. I just want to know, can you actually make “invisible” led’s that can flush mount to a surface? Basically like sticking an amoled screen to the front of a surface like a sticker. Let’s stick with email from here please, i have to show you some stuff.

  2. Even if it’s 1000x more conductive than the current leader in conductive filament, it’s still 10,000x worse than copper. Is that good enough to do anything with?

    Also, at $71/half-pound, it’s almost 4x more expensive than what’s out there now, and outrageously priced. $25 for an LED+watch battery+<$1 worth of overpriced filament is similarly outrageous.

    What is this Kickstarter really about? There are zero details about what they'll do with the money, or why they even need it in the first place (if he really "built a nanotech lab" in his house, $100k is pocket change – he was after all a distinguished engineer at Microsoft, where he worked for 20 years).

    This is super sketchy to me. May not be a scam, but it's not all on the up and up.

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thanks for expressing your concerns, and hopefully I can answer them here.

      On the first one, what can you do with it? You can really print working circuits for a lot of applications. Last night, I printed a small electromagnetic levitator prototype with a laser actuated power switch to a power transistor and electromagnet. I’m running about 5 watts into the electromagnet through the plastic and the power transistor. I posted a video of that as an update on the Kickstarter today. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the best circuit designer, so you may be able to do better than I. You’re right that it isn’t metal, but it is real, much more conductive than anything currently available, and beyond the threshold of usefulness for complete circuits.

      As far as the price, I’m glad we got it down from where it was :) Our expected price was significantly more, but I spent a lot of time in the lab and was able to get it down further. At the current price, not only does it include untold hours and effort of deep research and development, it’s an absolutely incredible buy for the materials and process used to make it. Although we didn’t put it as a risk on Kickstarter, and I will make sure we deliver as promised when it funds, the biggest concern at the price we’re at now is margin. Of course, we’ll be working to improve price/performance, but when the levitator model I printed takes 8 grams of our material, that still beats the price of just about any other solution conductive enough for circuits.

      The Kickstarter is really about exactly what it says and fully on the up and up. We will use the money we get to buy equipment and setup production to fund the delivery of the equipment so you and/or others can get this material and be able to make things you could not before.

    2. Hey Dave, I’m working with the creators and will be getting filament to test. I understand that the money is going towards mass manufacturing a lot of this stuff. It may not be as conductive as copper but we can’t extrude copper out of a 3D printer nozzle.

      As far as it being 4x more expensive than what is already out there, as I mentioned in my article, there is nothing out there for 3D printers that is as conductive as this filament appears to be. If you have a link to a product that is a quarter of the cost and as conductive, I would love if you were to share it with us.

      1. Thank you, Matt and Michael both, for replying.

        As I wrote in my comment, this filament clocks in at 4x the price of what I assume is the current best solution – I’m comparing F-Electric ($71 per half pound) to this conductive ABS (~$48 per pound): http://www.matterhackers.com/store/3d-printer-filament/Conductive-Filament-175mm-halfkg

        Both the article and campaign were lacking details enough to set off my “sketch factor” alarm bells (and I hope you can appreciate some healthy skepticism of things you come across on the Internet, especially when they’re asking for your money). Based on his replies here and to me directly on Kickstarter, I don’t worry anymore than Michael is trying to scam anyone. But I won’t be risking my money, either.

        Best,
        -Dave

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Matt is a community organizer and founder of 3DPPVD, Ocean State Maker Mill, and HackPittsburgh. He is Make's digital fabrication and reviews editor.

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