Roberto Sanz Camacho
Dept. Of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Roberto Sanz Camacho, has just completed his third year of Mechanical Engineering at Universidad de las Américas Puebla in Mexico. He is very interested in additive manufacturing and he is spending the summer at York University studying the process of inkjet printing of conductive patterns on 3D printed materials in Professor Gerd Grau’s laboratory. Specifically, Roberto is conducting a series of experiments in which he is trying to integrate printed electronics with 3D printed structures. By the end of the summer, Roberto is hoping to have created a functional strain gauge attached to a 3D printed model. This is important because as additive manufacturing gains ground not only in the area of rapid prototyping but also in the production of customized devices, the direct fabrication of discrete electronic components attached to 3D printed elements would continue to boost technological development in areas such as bioengineering, electronics, mechanical and structural engineering.
Inkjet printing of conductive patterns on 3D printed materials
Printed electronics is a promising technology due to its simplicity for creating electronic devices on various substrates. One of these substrates can be 3D printed material. As manufacturing processes move towards additive techniques, the integration of inkjet and 3D printing introduces a new approach in the optimization of sophisticated component production. The goal of this project is to achieve a high quality and precision printing of conductive patterns with silver ink on top of a co-polyester (Ultimaker CPE+) 3D printed substrate. Here, we study the interaction between the ink droplets and the surface finish of the CPE+, and how to avoid lateral ink wicking caused by grooves created by the 3D printing process and the cleaning method of this substrate. We follow two different approaches, based on the analysis of the 3D printing process in order to avoid ink wicking. In one approach, the 3D printed pattern is made up of a series of parallel lines as usual; however, we vary the spacing between passes to improve surface quality. In another approach, the 3D printer traces out the same pattern as the subsequent inkjet printer printing a conductive silver pattern. In this way, the inkjet printed droplets are positioned in an area with improved surface roughness and quality compared to its surroundings. The consideration of important variables such as ink viscosity, pattern geometry, drop spacing, inkjet printing direction, and width of the 3D printed substrate lines, will be crucial for the optimal integration of these technologies. Further developments will include the application of this technique in the printing of a strain gauge over a 3D printed piece. This project can contribute to the direct manufacture of electronic components integrated with 3D printed models.