With recent developments in additive manufacturing (AM), new possibilities for fabricating smart structures have emerged. Recently, single-process fused-filament fabrication (FFF) sensors for dynamic mechanical quantities have been presented. Sensors measuring dynamic mechanical quantities, like strain, force, and acceleration, typically require conductive filaments with a relatively high electrical resistivity. For fully embedded sensors in single-process FFF dynamic structures, the connecting electrical wires also need to be printed. In contrast to the sensors, the connecting electrical wires have to have a relatively low resistivity, which is limited by the availability of highly conductive FFF materials and FFF process conditions. This study looks at the Electrifi filament for applications in printed electrical conductors. The effect of the printing-process parameters on the electrical performance is thoroughly investigated (six parameters, >40 parameter values, >200 conductive samples) to find the highest conductivity of the printed conductors. In addition, conductor embedding and post-printing heating of the conductive material are researched. The experimental results helped us to understand the mechanisms of the conductive network’s formation and its degradation. With the insight gained, the optimal printing strategy resulted in a resistivity that was approx. 40% lower than the nominal value of the filament. With a new insight into the electrical behavior of the conductive material, process optimizations and new design strategies can be implemented for the single-process FFF of functional smart structures.
Ladisk, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ljubljana
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