Friday, 18 September 2015

PrintPut Integrates Touch Sensors Into 3-D Printed Objects

              Image: Human Media Lab/Queen's University

3-D printing has turned prototyping from something that takes days or weeks into something that takes hours. This is great, if the prototype that you end up with does what you want it to do, which it probably won’t, if you’re concerned with interactivity. You can certainly take a dremel to whatever you’ve just printed and try and stuff some sensors into it, but that sounds like a lot of work, which is why researchers at Queen’s University (the one in Ontario) have combined conductive filament with a dual-extruder 3-D printer to createa way to print objects with sensors in them all in one shot.

PrintPut can handle all kinds of interactive elements, including buttons, pressure sensors, sliders, touchpads, and flex sensors. These elements can be integrated into just about any surface, not just flat ones, which opens up tons of creative options to designers, and said designers can leave most of the tricky CAD stuff up to software scripts. All you have to do is design a CAD model just like you would normally and then use a plugin to define points and curves for the interactive areas. The software then figures out how to integrate all of the conductive channels, and you end up with two interlocking 3-D models: your original CAD design with all of the conductive areas hollowed out of it and conductive pathways to fill those areas. Send it along to your dual-extruder 3-D printer, and then go get a latte, because you’re pretty much done. The final step, once your print is complete, is to attach alligator clips to the 3-D–printed conductive terminals leading to each sensor, and then wire it all up with an Arduino or some other microcontroller.

For more information click here.

from electronic for robot


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