Getting rid of the wires: Curved Layer Fused Deposition Modeling in Conductive Polymer Additive Manufacturing
This paper describes an additive manufacturing technology that has the potential to print plastic components with integral conductive polymer electronic circuits. This could have a major impact in the fields of robotics and mechatronics as it has the potential to allow large wiring looms, often an issue with complex robotic systems, to be printed as an integral part of the products plastic shell. This paper describes the development of a novel Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process in which the layers of material that make up the part are deposited as curved layers instead of the conventional flat layers. This opens up possibilities of building curved plastic parts that have conductive electronic tracks and components printed as an integral part of the plastic component, thereby eliminating printed circuit boards and wiring. It is not possible to do this with existing flat layer additive manufacturing technologies as the continuity of a circuit could be interrupted between the layers. With curved-layer fused deposition modeling (CLFDM) this problem is removed as continuous filaments in 3 dimensions can be produced, allowing for continuous conductive circuits.