New Material Paves the Way for 3D Printing of Personal Electronic Devices
November 27, 2012 9:47 AM
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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.
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RE: Patent and copyright holders crying
11/28/2012 6:58:57 AM
That's not quite true. A large chunk of a cost of product isn't just the manufacturing. They have to pay for R&D, marketing, distribution, general operations, etc. You're not just paying for the raw materials.
RE: Patent and copyright holders crying
11/28/2012 6:33:31 PM
Maybe the future financing model will be in the style of kick-starter. Someone says "I want to design this awesome thing that can be printed freely but need funding." And the people who want said awesome thing help pay for the development. The purchase is on the back end instead of the front end. No piracy, no need for marketing beyond the initial fund raising (if something is really cool/useful, it will market itself... see Gangnam Style), distribution would be via p2p networks, general operations would also be funded in the initial push... To remain profitable, you must continue to produce things people want.
To get to the Star Trek point, we would have to be able to produce the raw materials out of any general waste and have energy that is so abundant that it is free (or close to it). But having a free exchange of ideas AND the capability of manufacturing anything without any expertise is the path to true freedom and prosperity... And both of those breed peace.
"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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