3D Printing with Electrically-Conductive Printing Filament

October 29, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

With the 3D printer and maker movement driving a personal industrial revolution, Functionalize today launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to announce and bring to market a breakthrough in electrically conductive 3D printing material. One thousand times more conductive than filament available today, the new filament, Functionalize F-Electric, enables anyone to print circuits, wires, sensors, power connectors, and other electrical components inside projects printed from popular PLA-capable 3D printers. Functionalize is seeking $100,000 from the Kickstarter community to set up a production facility to bring F-Electric to market in volume.

“Imagine a world where you can 3D print your next cell phone, a drone, an Internet of Things device, or the latest in wearable electronics, complete with circuits and electrical components,” said Mike Toutonghi, Functionalize’s founder, CEO and chief scientist. “That’s where we’re going, and our F-Electric filament is a major step forward in making this a reality. Using our nanomaterials and processes, we’ll have the chance to invent all sorts of new, functional materials that Makers need to launch their designs and prototypes.”

At 0.75 ohm-cm volume resistivity, Functionalize F-Electric™ makes it easy to 3D print circuits, buttons, sensors, power connectors, and other electrical components right inside your 3D prints on popular, PLA-compatible filament printers. F-Electric is nanotube-based material, manufactured using Functionalize’s patent-pending process and materials, resulting in a highly conductive composite filament that prints smoothly and without warping.

F-Electric is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm diameter filament, and prints well at typical PLA printing temperatures of about 215 to 230 degrees C. You can print F-Electric either with or without a heated bed set to temperatures under 70 degrees C. F-Electric is compatible with most filament-based 3D printers, including MaketBot, LeapFrog, Airwolf, Lulzbot, Flashforge, and many others.

Today’s 3D printers create inert objects out of a variety of colors and textures of plastic, but to make these objects electronically functional often requires a separate manufacturing process to add electrical components. While there have been some advancements in existing conductive material, there hasn’t been plastic capable of being printed on today’s common 3D printers and with enough conductivity to even light up an LED. Measuring under 1 ohm/cm, F-Electric is the world’s most electrically conductive 3D printing filament that enables electronic or electromechanical capabilities to be designed right into the structure of printed parts. Current conductive 3D filaments measure in the 1,000 – 10,000 ohms/cm range.

“Functionalize is opening a whole new frontier for 3D printing that will change the way we Makers make,” said Matt Johnson, program director at intentional3D, Inc. “By allowing electrical circuits to be part of the 3D design and build process, there are endless possibilities for what can be built. We see numerous applications across many industries and think Functionalize has just begun to scratch the surface of possibilities.”