Agency for Science, Technology and Research
ISME's carbon powder and polypropylene thermoplastic filament demonstrates a mere resistance of 3.8 kΩ, while a commercial filaments measures a 2.8-MΩ resistance. Its thermal and mechanical strength allows it to be 3D printed by standard 3D printers.

Highly Conductive Thermoplastic Shows Promise in 3D-Printed Circuits

May 22, 2015
Thermoplastic filament has low resistivity, and features thermal and mechanical strength for 3D-printed circuitry.

A revolution in 3D-printed circuitry could be in the making if scientists at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have their way. The team created a new thermoplastic filament with a resistance of 0.5-1.0 Ω-cm—1000 times more conductive than commercial thermoplastic used in 3D-printed circuits.

The material is a blend of carbon powder and polypropylene that’s extruded as filaments. It’s able to withstand loading and high temperatures during 3D printing in standard thermoplastic 3D printers. It also can be used as a solder, as it sticks well to other thermoplastic materials. It has virtually uniform conductivity, with less than 5% variation.

The IMRE material is more conductive than other newly developed thermoplastics. Its resistivity is at least one-fifteenth that of a new polylatic acid- (PLA) based material, and it is 1000 times more conductive than a new acrylonitrile butadiene styrene- (ABS) based material. As a homogenous filament, it also replaces designs that use a conductive core in an insulated casing.  

Prototypes by IMRE include a 3D circuit, a flexible wearable device, and a USB cable.

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