April 25, 2014

Most 3D printers usually build objects layer-by-layer from a single "passive" material such as plastic. But an open source project will let home users print interactive prototypes with capacitive and conductive features.

Rabbit Proto, developed by three Sanford, Calif.-based engineers, is a print head add-on that easily plugs into your 3D printer, enabling it to print complex conductive traces within your 3D design. Rabbit Proto's 10cc syringe-like extruder allows you to print circuits inside of the plastic design itself — without having to interrupt the printing process.

For example, Rabbit Proto can print a first part of a plastic enclosure, then deposit a conductive pattern, and finally finish up printing the rest of the plastic enclosure – all in one printing process. You can also print circuits on uneven or 3d surfaces, and can deposit some pretty complicated conductive patterns while doing it.

Rabbit Proto has been focused on conductive material and Bare Conductive ink for printing capacitive touch sensors. They have also done tests with silver filled silicon RTV, which is more conductive but also much more expensive.

Watch below Rabbit Proto printing a working video game controller.

Rabbit Proto has been tested on a Rostock Max and a Mendel Prusa V2, and it is designed to be compatible with all RepRap printers having a dual-extrusion board (for example, Rambo, Ramps, etc.).

The basic model of Rabbit Proto extruder costs $350 and can be preordered on its website, with an expected delivery time of July 1. You can also get a Super Rabbit, including a filament extruder (1.75mm) and a syringe extruder for $450. For $2,499 you can order a fully-assembled 3D printer equipped with the Rabbit Proto.

The project source code, documentation, and example designs are open source and available on GitHub.

Another example of 3d printed circuit:

Basically you can print with any materials that fits inside a 10 cc syringe. But if printing circuits doesn't interest you, Rabbit Proto says you can always just put chocolate or even peanut butter in the syringe to print edible objects.

Posted in 3D Printing Accessories

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jd90 wrote at 4/25/2014 6:36:47 PM:

That said, I am interested in the paste extruder design.

jd90 wrote at 4/25/2014 6:14:04 PM:

With current technology, I don't see the value in trying to have one machine do everything, it's going to be a very compromised design. Maybe soon, but I just don't see it with this concept.

Adam B wrote at 4/25/2014 5:27:39 PM:

Neat concept but the problem with bare conductive is the resistance is quite high. you can really only get some leds going or capactive buttons with it, you aren't going to make a very useful pcb with it. the silver ink is damn damn expensive. Might be better to simply build the channels, pause the print, squirt with syringe, then continue the print.

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