PrintPut project developed techniques to use conductive ABS to make 3d printable input devices and sensors.
PrintPut is a method for 3D printing that embeds interactivity directly into printed objects. When developing new artifacts, designers often create prototypes to guide their design process about how an object should look, feel, and behave. PrintPut uses conductive filament to offer an assortment of sensors that an industrial designer can easily incorporate into these 3D designs, including buttons, pressure sensors, sliders, touchpads, and flex sensors.
Existing touch solutions, even if flexible, cannot seamlessly wrap around many non-planar objects. Alternatively, using many individual sensors introduces wires that are difficult to manage and impede interaction. PrintPut addresses these concerns by seamlessly integrating interaction points within the existing surface geometry of the object and internally routing the wires to a common connection point.
PrintPut's main components are conductive ABS filament, a dual-extruder 3D printer, and a series of scripts to generate conductive geometry. After a designer makes an object with sensor geometry, they import it into their 3D printer’s build manager and assign the base and conductive geometry to standard and conductive filaments, respectively. Once the object is printed, sensor values can be easily read by connecting it to an Arduino or other microcontroller with alligator clips.
Detailed paper in PDF: