How to Make 3D-Printed Circuit Boards And An LED Flashlight

What You Need

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printing electronics photo

credit: CarryTheWhat via Instructables

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What do you need? The code base was developed for use by the MakerBot Replicator. Besides the basic electronic components, you will also need conductive thread. I have tried several types of conductive thread, and the best so far (by a wide margin) can be found here.

I have also found it useful to have fine point tweezers and small scissors, to aid in the wrapping and placing of components.

Links:
- Library for 3D-PCB
- Example printed electronic -- the Cutaway LED Flashlight
- 3D-PCB Github if you would like to support the project directly
- Or visit our etsy shop for other info and to support indirectly

Why? We are entering an age where physical goods increasingly have a digital representation (eg www.thingiverse.com) -- and the means production of such goods are increasingly accessible (eg reprap, makerbot, etc..). The success of Open Source Software speaks for itself. Open Source Hardware has also seen many achievements in conventional firms (eg with arduino). But future success might lie in distributed manufacturing.

While the data can be ubiquitous and free, the machines are not, and there will always be some material cost in replicating physical goods. To those without, we want to provide access to the fantastic creations these machines are capable of. To the developers of these creations, we hope to provide a valuable user base. And the economic activity generated will drive extra resources into the technologies that power it.

At CarryTheWhat? Replications, we are acting as a case study for the independent, distributed manufacturing of physical open source goods, and there are a number of other makers doing similar things.

The goal of this project in particular is to increase the scope of what can be replicated on a commodity machine. Better solutions some day might be sort of conductive putty or ink, or even a printable conductive plastic or semi-conductor material. But for now, you can print basic electronics using a plastic PCB and conductive thread. So give it a try!