3D printing is already a pretty incredible technology. As a self proclaimed futurist myself, when I envision the next 10-20 years within the industry, I see a time when not only boring inanimate objects can be printed, but actual objects with moving electronic parts. One prophesy I have heard from fellow futurists, is that one day we will be able to print out our own smartphones, in one piece; battery, screen, processor, and all. This of course is not something that will happen over the next few years, or maybe even decades for that matter, but one company is at least getting us closer.
Rabbit Proto has created a product capable of integrating circuitry within a 3D print, without the user having to stop a print in the middle, to change out print heads, or participate in any complex rigging of the printer. Rabbit Proto is a print head add-on that can easily plug into a 3D printer. It then is able to print complex conductive traces within a 3D printed object, all during the printing process.
The Rabbit Proto uses a special conductive ink, which is extruded out of a second print head of any RepRap dual print head machine. The ink comes out of a tiny syringe-like extruder which prints onto any surface. The printer can then be programmed to streamline the printing process, switching from the conductive ink, back to plastic, and so on. This leaves the user with a final product, that includes integrated circuitry, all printed in one nonstop session.
Although the technology is completely open source, and the design can be downloaded for free at Gitbhub, not everyone is capable of building their own conductive ink extruder. Therefore, Rabbit Proto is offering several packages for sale which include the following:
- Pure Rabbit plugs into your existing plastic extrusion system. Includes a syringe extruder for 3D printing conductive ink.
- Compatible with a 10cc syringe for extrusion.
- Comes with Gauge 15 (1.371 mm) nozzle.
- 1 syringe of conductive ink included.
- Price $350
- Includes a filament extruder (1.75mm) and a syringe extruder. Replaces the current extrusion system on your 3D Printer.
- Compatible with 1.75mm ABS, PLA, Nylon, etc.
- Maximum Temperature: 260 Celsius
- 1 syringe of conductive ink included.
- Price $450
Rabbit 3D Printer:
- Fully-assembled 3D printer including the Super Rabbit Extruder. Ready to go with minimal calibration – all-in-one solution
- 3D printers conceived and built by their expert partners.
- The Rabbit Proto shipped as a ready-to-go machine.
- 5 syringes of conductive ink included.
- Price $2499
All three packages are now open for pre-order. The exact ship date is unknown.
As the Rabbit Proto technology is completely open source, it will certainly be interesting to see how quickly things develop. The RepRap open source 3D printer movement has led to a great deal of innovation within the 3D printing space. I would imagine that the Rabbit Proto project will be a launching point for the 3D printing of integrated circuitry. If you intend to, or have pre-ordered any of the packages above, we would love to hear from you at the Rabbit Proto forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below in which a gaming controller is printed in one solid piece, circuits and all.
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