The thought of using a 3D printer to fabricate PCBs is tantalizing and the good news is that it’s a reality. This project shows that it’s possible to use a special printer head to apply traces to an extruded substrate.
This is similar to the point-to-point 3D printer circuits with one big upgrade. Now the traces can be printed directly onto the ABS using conductive ink. The process starts with the design files, which are used to model a substrate that has a trench for each trace. A Makerbot then prints out this model. Once complete, the ABS extruder head is swapped for a special ink head. Each trace is then filled with the conductive fluid, which is kept in place by the trench walls until it can dry. We think this improves on the trace printing techniques we’ve seen before because it doesn’t require your printer heat to use molten metals.
The circuit above uses printed traces for the high and low side of an LED circuit. It’s a bit rough at the edges, but it shows a lot of promise. Don’t miss the demo video embedded after the jump.