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3D printing of personal electronics may be in our future

Researchers, led by Doctor Simon Leigh at the University of Warwick, have announced the creation of a simple and inexpensive conductive plastic composite that can be used in 3D printers. The researchers believe that the material, called carbomorph, could give hobbyists the ability to 3D print low-cost consumer electronics devices at home.

Carbomorph allows users to create electronic tracks and sensors as part of the 3D printed structure. That means that the 3D printer can print touch sensitive areas that can be connected to a simple electronic circuit board to operate.
 
The team of researchers has used the new material to print objects on embedded flex sensors and to create devices with touch sensitive buttons such as game controllers. In addition, the printed sensors they have created can be monitored using open-source electronics and free programming libraries.

"Designers could also use it to understand better how people tactilely interact with products by monitoring sensors embedded into objects,” said Leigh.

"However, in the short term I can see this technology having a major impact in the educational sector for example, allowing the next generation of young engineers to get hands-on experience of using advanced manufacturing technology to design fairly high-tech devices and products right there in the classroom."
 
According to the researchers, the next step for the project is to work on printing more complex structures and electronic components including wires and cables needed to connect the devices to the computer.
 
We reported earlier this week that researchers have developed a 3D printer that is capable of making implantable cartilage that could someday help patients suffering from arthritis.

Source: Science Daily





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