Researchers at the University of Warwick have opened up the possibilities of easily accessible, functional electronics with the introduction of 3D printable electrically conductive plastic. The plastic composite (nicknamed ‘carbomorph’) allows circuits to be printed, meaning the pieces can actually work.
The simple and inexpensive conductive plastic composite can be used to produce electronic devices using the latest generation of low-cost 3D printers. It enables users to lay down electronic tracks and sensors as part of a 3D printed structure. This allows the printer to create touch-sensitive areas, which can be connected to a simple electronic circuit board.
The team has already used the material to print a game controller and a mug that can tell how full it is. Their next step is to work on printing more complex electronic components, including the cables required to connect the devices to computers. Dr Simon Leigh, who led the research team, said:
In the long term, this technology could revolutionalise the way we produce the world around us, making products such as personal electronics a lot more individualised and unique and in the process reducing electronic waste.