This invention makes 3D printers spit out electronics

3D printing so far has focused on creating inert objects — toys, gears, even food. But what if a 3D printer could print, say, circuit boards? A startup believes it has invented the electrically conductive, extrudable material needed to make that happen.

“This is a breakthrough,” Mike Toutonghi told. He’s the CEO/founder of Functionalize, which is launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for production of the new filament, dubbed Functionalize F-Electric.

Toutonghi said that consumer-level PLA-capable 3D printers can use F-Electric to print circuits, wires, sensors, power connectors, and other electrical components. F-Electric’s impedance — a measurement of resistance to conductivity — is under 1 ohm per centimeter, while other conductive 3D-printable filaments are in the 1000- to 10,000-ohms/cm range.

Users, he envisioned, can now print most of the parts for, say, a smartphone, a drone, or a customized wearable. Toutonghi has tested the idea by printing a flashlight, for which he only needs to add a bulb and batteries. … (Read more)