3D Printed Substrate

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Charlie-plexed LED matrix printed onto a 3D printed part.
Light up dice printed onto 3D printed part laid out as cube net.

Click here to see a full list of substrates that can be used with the Argentum printer.

Description

Printing directly onto 3D printed components is something that we have done only some minimal testing around thus far so expect this page to be updated as we (or you!) generate more experimental data.

Experiments conducted so far have only been performed onto 3D printed PLA plastic (produced on an Ultimaker 1 - although this shouldn't have any effect). The main issue with printing straight onto the 3D printed material is that most dekstop FDM printers do not often create an entirely watertight top surface. Minor amounts of surface porosity (holes or pits into the material) were created due to the minimum thickness of the extruded material. Additionally, the smoothness of the material generated the same adhesion issues experienced by FR4 & Polyimide.

These problems were circumvented by wiping a small amount of PVA wood glue over the surface and then lightly sanding it back with sandpaper. This provided a printing surface that still wasn't ideal in terms of adhesion or conductivity but definitely provided a usable substrate. Further experiments are planned for reducing the post-processing down to a minimum.

The last problem is that 3D printed materials are thermoplastics that are designed to be extruded usually around 200C - this prevents any possibility of soldering to the materials.

Where to Find

Custom parts produced on any standard desktop FDM printer.

Parameter Details

Property Value Description
Conductivity.jpg
2outOf5.jpg
2/5 The lack of consistency in the sanded surface of the parts leads to a reduction in the achievable resolution for a given number of layers. If a better/more consistent method can be found, this may be able to increase drastically.
Resolution.jpg
2outOf5.jpg
2/5 The resolution is poor on these parts for similar reasons as Conductivity, see above.
Solderability.jpg
0outOf5.jpg
0/5 Due to the thermoplastics in a 3D print becoming soft at anywhere upward of 80C, it becomes virtually impossible to solder anything to the traces - only suitable for Z-Axis Tape or Silver conductive epoxy. Perhaps a part made through SLS or SLA technology would be able to withstand the heat much better.
Durability.jpg
2outOf5.jpg
2/5 The material itself is inherently waterproof & ductile but the surface leaves adhesion very low so the traces can often be easily rubbed off.
Flexibility.jpg
5outOf5.jpg
?/5 This parameter entirely depends upon the material you use & we have even made circuits with very thin sections of printed PLA that were very flexible.
Formability.jpg
5outOf5.jpg
5/5 The benefit of using a 3D printed object is that it becomes simple to make the substrate into almost any shape you want, as long as the surface you are printing onto is flat & does not collide with the print head.

Compatible Component Attachment Methods

Silver Conductive Epoxy
ConductiveEpoxy.jpg
Z-Axis Tape
ZAxisTape.jpg