Aug 8, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to new and exciting things to do with the latest and greatest in 3D printing materials, many projects simply involve different ways of thinking about or assembling existing concepts.  

To highlight what’s possible with conductive filament and glow in the dark Ninjaflex, the famous Ruiz brothers over at Adafruit recently published a new project teaches users how to create their very own customized flexible LED wearable - particularly, a glove.   

Among other reasons why the brothers created the project, they wanted to experiment to see how well Ninjaflex could adhere to conductive PLA filament; the two materials already bond well together and their unique attributes compliment one another.

The finished semi-flexible glove design, which features an integrated circuit, uses a coin cell battery to power 5 Adafruit LED Sequins.  In order to create their own glove however, users need to have access to a 3D printer with a dual extruder.    

“We think the concepts in this project can be used to create really cool elements for cosplay props and costumes,” said the brothers.   

“Integrating conductive filament into your designs will allow you to create embed circuitry. The conductive filament can also be used for capacitive touch sensors!”

After sourcing the parts, which includes NinjaFlex Glow in the Dark Filament, ProtoPasta Conductive Filament, Bare Conductive Paint, a Lithium Coin Cell and Adafruit LED Sequins, the design process begins by users tracing their own hand to ensure that the finished product fits as intended.  

After tracing a hand with pencil and paper, the drawing can be imported into a program that allows for vector tracing - such as Adobe’s Illustrator.  Using the traced hand image at a 1:1 scale backdrop image, a vector path is used to create an outline that is imported into a CAD program to create a 3D extrusion of the traced line.

Additionally, ground and power traces for each finger are made and extruded as well during this stage to ensure that all of the parts and pathways fit as intended.  As for the coin cell housing, a simple cylinder can be created and shelled in the middle of the hand (think Iron Man) - which will ultimately power the conductive strips leading out to each finger once the final glove has been printed.  

Once the glove and parts have been optimized for 3D printing with a dual extruder 3D printer, the hand is printed in Ninjaflex while the traces of the hand are printed in conductive PLA filament.  Because these parts are being printed as a single piece, they are fused together during the printing process.  For their project, the Ruiz Brothers used a Flashforge Creator Pro.  

Finally, before connecting all of the LEDs using conductive paint, the traces are tested to ensure that they can actually flow electrons by inserting the coin cell into the battery holder and using a piece of copper foil tape to connect ground, followed by connecting any bare LED to each conductive pad.  

Finally, the finger straps can be added to the finished glove and it can be tested for flexibility.  At this stage, the conductive paint can be used to fix any parts that appear to be peeling off in dry spots - such as the LEDs.  

“The bare conductive paint adheres to the materials pretty well, but you can knock them loose with a lot of force and movement,” add the Brothers.   

“If you do find yourself stressing,  small touch ups can be applied. Be sure not to touch or flex until the conductive paint dries.  You can also use UV / black lights help to boost light when using Glow in the dark NinjaFlex!”

Of course, the project doesn’t have to end with just the glove - the same technique can easily be applied to any number of cosplay or halloween costumes.  

To read the build process in-full, head over to Adafruit.   



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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