Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK have developed a new material that can be used in existing 3D printers to build electronic components into 3D-printed items. Nicknamed ‘carbomorph’, the material is a simple and inexpensive conductive plastic composite that can be used to produce electronic devices using home/hobbyist fused deposition moulding (FDM) machines.
The team have used the material to make console game controllers that are perfectly matched to the player’s hands and a mug that can display how full it is. But they intend to work on more complex structures and electronic components in the future.
Dr Simon Leigh, who led the research, said: “We set about trying to find a way in which we could actually print out a functioning electronic device from a 3D printer.
“In the short term I can see this technology having a major impact in the educational sector, for example, allowing the next generation of young engineers to get hands-on experience of using advance manufacturing technology to design fairly high-tech devices and products right there in the classroom.”