DOI: 10.3390/polym15173498 ISSN:

A Printing Strategy for Embedding Conductor Paths into FFF Printed Parts

Timo Banko, Stefan Grünwald, Rainer Kronberger, Hermann Seitz
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • General Chemistry

A novel approach to manufacture components with integrated conductor paths involves embedding and sintering an isotropic conductive adhesive (ICA) during fused filament fabrication (FFF). However, the molten plastic is deposited directly onto the adhesive path which causes an inhomogeneous displacement of the uncured ICA. This paper presents a 3D printing strategy to achieve a homogeneous cross-section of the conductor path. The approach involves embedding the ICA into a printed groove and sealing it with a wide extruded plastic strand. Three parameter studies are conducted to obtain a consistent cavity for uniform formation of the ICA path. Specimens made of polylactic acid (PLA) with embedded ICA paths are printed and evaluated. The optimal parameters include a groove printed with a layer height of 0.1 mm, depth of 0.4 mm, and sealed with a PLA strand of 700 µm diameter. This resulted in a conductor path with a homogeneous cross-section, measuring 660 µm ± 22 µm in width (relative standard deviation: 3.3%) and a cross-sectional area of 0.108 mm2 ± 0.008 mm2 (relative standard deviation 7.2%). This is the first study to demonstrate the successful implementation of a printing strategy for embedding conductive traces with a homogeneous cross-sectional area in FFF 3D printing.

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