New metal lets today’s 3D printers make tomorrow’s electronics (VIDEO)

When entrepreneur Michael Toutonghi and his son wanted to make a rocket in their family basement, they went about it in a thoroughly modern way: though the duo wasn’t gearing up to produce their rockets by the hundreds, the production and assembly processes were still too tedious to be done entirely by hand.

Well-versed in using 3D printers to assist rapid prototyping, the two Toutonghis set about automating as much of the process as possible, but their efforts hit a wall when it came time to do the electronics. Put simply, 3D printing could not do what they need it to do with the tools they had available. So, it was time to invent a solution.

The resulting Kickstarter campaign certainly makes big claims for itself: a new 3D printable metal that is exponentially more conductive than current materials, and which could finally let 3D printing decentralize design and manufacturing. Called F-Electric, the material — which can be used in the place of standard PLA plastic in a cheap 3D printer — reportedly exhibits less than one ohm-cm of resistance. For context, graphite’s resistance is about 0.001 ohm-cm, while an average competing conductive printing material might come in at 10,000 ohm-cm or more. As you can see, this offers an incredible step up from current solutions, and brings any PLA-capable printer within striking distance of much more expensive industrial printing tech. … (Read more)