The field of additive manufacturing grows everyday, turning on the news only to see a new breakthrough has been accomplished, thanks to 3D printing. 3D printing has disrupted giant industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical, even fashion, and still continues to expand into other industry segments; due to 3D printing giving users the ability to rapid prototype. Some of you, like most, are wondering, what’s the next step for 3D printing, where is this technology being implemented, and how will it affect you?
Recently, a group of researchers from the Human Media Lab of Queens University, located in Canada have presented a new method of integrating sensors into 3D prints at the Interact 2015 conference in Bamberg, Germany; the researchers named this method, PrintPut. The PrintPut method allows a designer to utilize a dual extruder 3D printer to print with conductive filament and thermal plastic along side each other to get interactive prints, enabling designers to not be restricted to putting sensors on only flat surfaces or adding sensors to the prototype, which affects the aesthetics and ergonomics of the design. By simply taking a CAD model of choice or doing and utilizing the PrintPut widget, select the points and curves on the model that are sought out to be interactive and leave the rest to the CAD program to figure out how the model will be printed.
The field of 3D printed electronics has many sought out uses, creating seamless, interactive, flexible, and ready to use prototypes simplifies the prototyping process. Creating prototypes that have a function, instead of only aesthetic appeal brings manufactures a step closer to replace traditional manufacturing methods with 3D printing. Another benefit of 3D printed sensors that are integrated at the start of the prototype will enable quicker testing, allowing rapid innovation to take place.
Researchers state that designers can integrate several different types of interactive widgets such as buttons, pressure sensors, sliders, touch pads, and flex sensors. After the designer chooses which widget is needed and prints the prototype, attach alligator clips to the conductive terminals, followed by wiring to a microcontroller to start testing.
The future looks bright for 3D printing, giving designers and inventors the ability to succeed faster through rapid prototyping. By entering the world of 3D printing a user can start manifesting their ideas to reality, making 3D printing a powerful and useful tool. SolveLight Robotics looks forward to seeing the next 3D printing innovation to come to share with our readers and followers!
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