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3D printer Conductive Plastic

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find conductive plastic that has resistance properties even close to wire. What I’ve found is currently there is nothing on the market that comes even close. Although a plastic “Described” as conducting is offered by quite a few venders the conductivity it pretty bad. If you are making an anti-static pad or a Faraday cage your OK but for most circuits it’s not practical, basically it just plastic with infused Carbon Black.

I did spend some time trying to make my own and I did get some good batches but I had a real hard time with getting consistent batches. If you interested I used Multi Walled Carbon Nanotubes and infused them is standard PLA. believe it or not nanotubes are pretty cheap now. I got mine from “CheapTubes.com“. Yes, believe it or not that’s the name of the company. I tried a bunch of combinations but my greatest success was with MWNT’s around the 30-50nm range. Basic method is to take existing 3D printing plastic and mix it with “Dichloromethane” this liquefies it and after a time just remove to stopper off your mixing bottle and the dichloromethane will evaporate leaving just the plastic infused with the nanotubes. Now all you have to do is get it back in 3D printer plastic form. To do that I just built a 3D printing extruder.

If someone comes up with a better way to do it let me know but the best I was able to get was about 200 ohms per inch, still not what I was looking for but way better then stuff available on the market now.

 

 

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3D Mendel FSR implementation

This new way of measuring the Z axis is great for providing perfect prints every time but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First at the moment the base Marlin firmware although configurable does not really work right. Use https://github.com/jcrocholl/Marlin/tree/fsr at least thats what got it working for me. I used 5 of FORCE SENSING RESISTOR,0.5 INCH ,CIRCLE,1oz-22LB,FLEXIBLE from Jameco.

31kUOn1-onL

 

Another thing I learned is you do need to secure them with two sided tape (You know the stuff white and kind of thick), it’s not just to secure the resistors but also it helps to distribute the force, trust me on this you need the tape!

Now I used a pretty simple way of wiring it all up. I just took 5 FSR sensors and put them in parallel and wired them all up through an old contact switch sensor I had from an earlier printer build. That way I had a little sensor board with an led to work with. I did try during my testing to wire the thing right to the Ramps 1.4 Z switch plugs as well that that worked too. The resistor pretty much works as a simple switch, off with no pressure and no real resistance when pressure applied.

 

Last but not least keep in mind that you have to update your slicer to put the new scripting in pre-Gcode, you need this or the slicer default firmware  pretty much overrides all the work you did. Here is the Code,

G28 X0 Y0 ;home X and Y

G29 ;probe bed

G90; set absolute coordinates

G92 E0; reset extruder distance

G1 Z5 F300 ;move platform down 5mm

G1 X145 Y145 F3000 ; move to back right corner