Conductive ink. Source: dupont.com
Conductive ink. Source: dupont.com

Conductive ink is ink that conducts electricity and can be printed on a variety of materials. The ink contains materials such as powdered silver or copper which allows it to conduct electricity. Printed conductive ink is less costly than subtractive methods as it uses less material and creates less waste. Conductive ink is used in a variety of applications, such as Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) tags, windshield defrosters, computer keyboards, and printed circuit boards. Printed circuit boards can now be 3D printed

Conductive Ink in 3D Printing

Printed circuit boards can be printed using a 3D printer by taking a 3D model and sending it to the printer. The circuit board has trenches where the traces of conductive ink will be printed. Once the circuit board is printed and dried, a special extruder head is swapped for an ink head. Then the traces are filled out with the conductive ink, which is kept in place by those handy trenches. Flomio, a company that creates RFID tags, has dropped their tags into 3D printed objects as they were being printed, with no damage to the tags. Stratasys has also created a 3D printed keyboard.