Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Functionalize Flashlight LetterKit: Integrating 3D Printing, Electronics & Fun at the Desktop

ST Medical Devices

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Functionalize-phlogoAll it takes is one look at a company like Functionalize and you not only realize the power of 3D printing, but it begins to sink in just how infinite the options–and potential impacts–are.

With the combination of 3D printing and electronics, 3D printing becomes a multi-faceted technology that allows for incredible independence and customization by the user. We’ve been following countless innovators and startups who are working on the integration of electronics into printed items, with the products becoming more complex as the 3D printers themselves do.

Now, Functionalize is lighting the way for all of us to get in on the action—and the fun–at the desktop level. With their Flashlight LetterKit, just released, you can make and even modify a keychain flashlight directly from your single head 3D printer, exploring an introduction to electronics and 3D printing as a comprehensive package.

Also of interest is their unique F-Electric filament which makes the whole project possible on PLA compatible 3D printers, due to its high level of conductivity. The Functionalize team considers this to be a revolutionary new thermoplastic material in that it allows for enough conductivity to light up LEDs and even power movement in 3D printed objects.

The kit comes with the following:letterkit

  • A modifiable keychain flashlight design made for single head printers
  • Pre-printed and fully assembled 3D flashlight
  • Sufficient Functionalize F-Electric conductive and regular filament to print five flashlights
  • Extra battery
  • LED light

“3D Printing is moving from its largely novelty roots, particularly in the home, to being a major tool for those building projects in the home or small business,” said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. “A critical part of this evolution is the ability to print ever more complex objects. The LetterKit is a clear example of this, showcasing and teaching 3D printer users that they can now take the next step. I expect it will be a harbinger for even more amazing things to come.”

The project is great for all ages, but is of course the perfect educational tool for families and students just learning about the technology and now, how other sciences like electronics can be melded with it as well. This is definitely on the map for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) path, and should be a perfect jumping off point for greater inspiration.

“We saw that many people purchasing Functionalize F-Electric filament started with the flashlight and were excited when they finished their first functional part. It reminded me of how I felt when I took my first flashlight off the print bed, snapped it together, and it lit up. With an entry level kit that maximizes project success, we want to share that feeling with everyone,” said Michael Toutonghi, founder and chief executive officer of Functionalize, Inc.

flashCentered around the innovative new filament, the flashlight gives just a glimmer into what can be done with F-Electric filament. Users can look forward to 3D printing:

  • Circuit boards
  • Buttons
  • Power connectors
  • Integrated battery packs

We’ve been following Functionalize since they launched their Kickstarter campaign last year, and then went on to production and shipping of the conductive F-Electric 3D printing filament this past spring.

The Functionalize Flashlight LetterKit is $19.95 and available both from Functionalize as well as authorized resellers. Founded in 2013 by Michael Toutonghi, the Functionalize team sees themselves as ‘just scratching the surface’ in terms of all that can be developed–and manufactured–in the future. Toutonghi, an entrepreneur for 30 years, has led the eHome division at Microsoft as its Vice President and Distinguished Engineer, and is also the inventor or co-inventor on 29 issued patents, and inventor of Functionalize’s pending patents on its nano-material synthesis and polymer composite technology, enabling F-Electric and other materials.

Will you be 3D printing a flashlight any time soon?  Let us know in the Functionalize forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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