Embedding Electronics in 3D Printed Objects

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Additive manufacturing can be an incredibly useful tool for prototyping and low volume production. Due its robust nature, one can create a single, complex, homogeneous parts that may not be possible to create through other manufacturing techniques. Therefore, it can be incredibly fast and efficient to go straight from a CAD drawing to a final part without very many intermediate steps. But, when the desired prototype consists of other non printed parts such as mounting hardware or even electronics, the user can find themselves in the arduous process of having to modify the original CAD drawing, sectioning it into various parts, printing these multiple parts, and joining them with various post processing techniques. For examples, imagine a simple mounting plate that requires mounting hardware, such as nuts, in the middle of the design. To incorporate the metal hardware into the design, the engineer would have to section the plate in half within the CAD file, print two separate parts, insert the hardware, and then glue the halves together. This adds unwanted steps to the process, and creates a new point of failure for the original design. A more efficient way of handling this problem can be solved through three main steps: Pausing the print at a specific point, inserting the hardware, and then resuming the print.

Pausing the print: In order to embed a desired, non-3D printed object into a single 3D print, the user must determine when in the print the "chamber" that the object would fit into is only partially printed, and then pause the print at that point in time. If the print is one that lasts many hours, the user would not want to sit and watch the print, and missing the small window by even a few seconds can render the technique useless. Therefore, the user should look at the CAD file within the slicing software to determine when the perfect window is. It is important to keep in mind that slicing software uses an estimate when calculating print time and one should therefore error on the early side.

Placing the object: Once the print is the

In our project, we struggled to find a way to embed the electronics into our 3D printed bracelet. However, the way we found to work best was to pause the printing, insert electronics, and continue printing. Follow these steps in order to do so yourself: