New Composite for 3D Printing

Guest_Jim_* - November 28, 2012 05:15PM in Science & Technology

Right now, with a few button-presses and mouse-clicks I can print out an entire book to read (legally) and in the future similar presses and clicks may let me print out a model of a character in that book. The technology that enables this is called 3D printing and many researchers are working to make it both inexpensive and powerful by increasing its potential. Those at the University of Warwick have done just that by developing a new material a 3D printer can use to print electronics.

Carbomorph, as they call it, is a conductive plastic composite that can be printed into electronic tracks and sensors. That means a printed object could have electronic touch sensitivity out of the printer. Such objects could include custom game controllers that are tailored to your hand or a mug that can tell you how full it is. Really the potential of the printer will only be limited by one's own creativity and ingenuity.

The circuits the researchers have printed thus far are fairly simply, which is why the researchers are next going to work on more complex designs, such as those needed to connect directly to computers. Ideally the researchers want to see this technology enter schools and give the next generation of engineers experience with this advanced manufacturing technique.