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Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering

Front. Mech. Eng.    2018, Vol. 13 Issue (4) : 528-534
A desktop 3D printer with dual extruders to produce customised electronic circuitry
Javaid BUTT(), Dominic Adaoiza ONIMOWO, Mohammed GOHRABIAN, Tinku SHARMA, Hassan SHIRVANI
Anglia Ruskin University, CM1 1SQ Chelmsford, UK
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3D printing has opened new horizons for the manufacturing industry in general, and 3D printers have become the tools for technological advancements. There is a huge divide between the pricing of industrial and desktop 3D printers with the former being on the expensive side capable of producing excellent quality products and latter being on the low-cost side with moderate quality results. However, there is a larger room for improvements and enhancements for the desktop systems as compared to the industrial ones. In this paper, a desktop 3D printer called Prusa Mendel i2 has been modified and integrated with an additional extruder so that the system can work with dual extruders and produce bespoke electronic circuits. The communication between the two extruders has been established by making use of the In-Chip Serial Programming port on the Arduino Uno controlling the printer. The biggest challenge is to control the flow of electric paint (to be dispensed by the new extruder) and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis has been carried out to ascertain the optimal conditions for proper dispensing. The final product is a customised electronic circuit with the base of plastic (from the 3D printer’s extruder) and electronic paint (from the additional extruder) properly dispensed to create a live circuit on a plastic platform. This low-cost enhancement to a desktop 3D printer can provide a new prospect to produce multiple material parts where the additional extruder can be filled with any material that can be properly dispensed from its nozzle.

Keywords 3D printing      Arduino Uno      extruder      multiple materials      electronic circuits      customisation      CFD analysis     
Corresponding Authors: Javaid BUTT   
Just Accepted Date: 15 January 2018   Online First Date: 08 March 2018    Issue Date: 31 July 2018
 Cite this article:   
Javaid BUTT,Dominic Adaoiza ONIMOWO,Mohammed GOHRABIAN, et al. A desktop 3D printer with dual extruders to produce customised electronic circuitry[J]. Front. Mech. Eng., 2018, 13(4): 528-534.
Fig.1  Additional extruder for dispensing electric paint
Fig.2  Pins of ICSP port
Fig.3  Prusa Mendel i2 printer integrated with the paint extruder
Fig.4  Conductivity test for the electric paint
Fig.5  Model for the paste extruder
Fig.6  Pressure contours for the paint extruder
Fig.7  Closer look at the pressure contours for the paint extruder
Fig.8  Velocity contours for the paint extruder
Fig.9  Closer look at the velocity contours for the paint extruder
Fig.10  Electronic chip: (a) Plastic part; (b) plastic part after dispensing paint; (c) LED and wire connections on the part; (d) electronic circuit on a plastic platform
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