Stanford University graduate students have created the Rabbit Proto, an open source three-dimensional (3D) printer attachment that lays down functioning circuitry right alongside the thermoplastic extruder head of an existing machine, enabling it to make functioning electronic prototypes.
"Our project enables 3D printers to deposit conductive material along with traditional plastic," says Stanford's Alex Jais. "The conductive material can be embedded within the 3D model and printed in the same 3D printing process."
The Rabbit Proto 3D print head is designed to fit onto several different versions of a RepRap printer, which is a style of machine designed to print most of their own components. The Rabbit Proto attachment enables designers to speed up their prototyping and ideation process, going from computer design to interactive prototype with one click of a mouse.
"There are so many RepRap machines out there," Jais notes. "This is a great way to bring this capability to other machines." The printer head attachment is a syringe with a 15 millimeter nozzle that dispenses conductive ink.
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