3D printed drones without wires/solder!

Hi group,

I'm looking for a small/micro quadcopter design that has potential to have its wires and soldered connections replaced with fully 3D printed circuits and power traces.

Our company, www.functionalize.com, would like to provide samples of our highly conductive F-Electric PLA filament and another yet unreleased highly conductive (even more so, actually) material we believe can do the job. Our web page shows recent examples of printed Arduino-compatible processor sockets, dual layer circuit design, and more, printable on regular single-head PLA printer.

Drop me a note if interested to work together!

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  • This is really cool. But the idea to make a quad with fully 3D printed wires is not a very good idea.
    It will work for connecting the main board with receiver, GPS (or other low current parts), but connecting the motors is not a good idea. The distance from the battery to the motors is quite high, probably minimum 10 CM, so with your 0.75 ohm filament, that means 7.5 ohms (per wire, and there are 3 wires per motor), and at any time 2 of the wires current goes through them, so that means 15 ohms (at least !!), and about 20 to 30 amps going through it. There will be a lot of current loss, and that current will be converted to heat, so the filament will heat up, how much I have no idea.
    I am guessing/estimating about 50% power loss of the motors. So I really doubt it will fly...

    But... for low current devices, I think this should work very nice, as you proved with your LED tests. Making a multi-layer PCB with a 3D printer would be really cool, and I definitely want to give that a try.

  • Hi Keith,

    I see you're using CF as your conductive element, have you done nozzle erosion testing?  

    I'm quite interested in the filament, and look forward to seeing what you have coming up in the future.  My only concern is that the CF might result in eventual erosion issues on hot ends that aren't specifically designed and hardened for it.  

    • Hi Jay, F-Electric PLA doesn't use carbon fiber, which I infer is what you mean by "CF". Rather, it's a carbon nanotube-based material, manufactured using Functionalize’s patent-pending process and materials, resulting in a highly conductive composite filament that prints smoothly and without warping. We've heard no issues of nozzle erosion, or have reason to anticipate any.

    • So the nanotubes are at a scale so small that there is no structural fiber to speak of.  


      For low current applications and shielding this is very interesting, but for high power brushless motors where you're pulling major amps, the resistance is still too high, unfortunately.  

      I look forward to seeing your next gen product though, if it's of low enough resistance it's possible that power transmission of significance may be possible.  You'e having to compete with a large gauge copper wire though, so good luck!  

    • so what would be the workflow when printing with your filament? my question is regarding using a dual extruder to lay down a layer pla and print with your material on top? how can we create a bond with a copper wire, printing a "blob" and use a heat gun? please walk us through a process.

    • i think i know what to do ;-) i made my gcode mixer, whits allow you print more filaments by one extruder. and i think adwantage will that wires can be part of plastik, so you reduce weight becouse electric part will also construction part ;-) so when i will get sample, i will try develope some  new version of drone what will use advantages of this filament ;-)

      Next advantagge is that you can print "wires" of any capacity and profile what you need ;-)

  • Hi keith ;-) i develope 3d printing drone long time ;-) but i think that still some wires will needing ;-) i also research our model of printers DS EVEL FORGE and DS GREEN DRAGON ;-) its posible get sample of this filament ?

    pls contact me on my mail p.cz@seznam.cz, or my phone 00302610455077 ;-) thx


    Petr Zverina

    Drone Solution LTD
    Drone Solution LTD. 245 likes. Drone Solution LTD is company developing technologies for 3Dprinting and Drones.
    • Hi Petr, just posting a quick note here to let you know I responded to you in email the other day. I'd love to learn more about your drone projects. Your printers look very cool, as well!

    • btw today was first time HEXEN mk1 in AIR ;-) with out setup, just basic, and he was fly stable and nothing exploded , fired off or crashed :D so all ok :D

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