Printable Rockets, Brought to You by Geeks With Deep Pockets

On his 50th birthday, Mike Toutonghi was helping his teenage son with a school project. They wanted to build a miniature rocket using a home 3-D printer. The problem: There’s no kind of plastic capable of conducting electricity that can be fed into a standard 3-D printer.

Toutonghi, who sold a startup to Microsoft and had been a top software engineer there, was determined to help his son make a project that stood out in class. Thanks to the 15 years he spent at Microsoft, he’d amassed the kind of disposable income allowing him to spend several hundred thousand dollars on a passion project such as this one. He purchased chemistry equipment and built a laboratory inside of his house in Prague. He’s been working for the last two years on developing the plastic his kid needed. While they missed the school’s deadline for the assignment, Toutonghi finally has a material that should do the trick.

Toutonghi dubbed his project Functionalize F-Electric. The name may not be sexy, but the plastic allows hobbyists and pros to print circuits, wires and electrical bits using some of the most popular home 3-D printers. It means they don’t have to use a soldering iron to manually fuse the electronics with a device’s plastic shell, a time-consuming endeavor. Good thing for Toutonghi, who says he’s “the worst” at soldering. … (Read more)