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Super conductive, easy to print, and affordable PLA based 3D printer filament.
Super conductive, easy to print, and affordable PLA based 3D printer filament.
Super conductive, easy to print, and affordable PLA based 3D printer filament.
321 backers pledged $17,996 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Electrically Conductive PLA 3D Printer Filament

$17,996

321

What is Proto-pasta Conductive PLA and why is it interesting?

Have you ever wanted to create something with your 3D printer that includes electronics?  Maybe an LED, touch sensor, or some other genius invention to solve the world’s problems?  Help us launch Conductive PLA and you will be able to!   

Proto-pasta Conductive PLA is an FFF/FDM 3D printing filament designed for users interested in combining 3D Printing and electronics. It allows you to print conductive assemblies that integrate switches, potentiometers, LED’s, capacitive touch sensors, and more!

Proto-pasta Conductive PLA Highlights

1-High electrical conductivity, between 60X and 700,000X more conductive than readily available conductive filaments at 15 ohm-cm

2-Compatibility with other PLA materials for use in dual-head printers with good layer adhesion for creating circuits

3-Reduced brittleness over existing conductive products (filament is quite flexible)

4-Excellent print quality

5-Proto-pasta Conductive PLA is affordable

What is it made of?

Proto-pasta Conductive PLA is a compound of Natureworks 4043D PLA, a dispersant and conductive carbon black.  

How conductive is “conductive”?

Great question!  Here are the numbers:

Volume resistivity of molded resin (not 3D Printed) – 15 ohm-cm

Volume resistivity of 3D printed parts perpendicular to layers – 30 ohm-cm

Volume resistivity of 3D printed parts through layers (along Z axis) – 115 ohm-cm

Resistance of a 10cm length of 1.75mm filament – 1.8Kohm

Resistance of a 10cm length of 2.85mm filament – 600ohm

The measure normally used to characterize a conductor is “volume resistivity” with the units of Ohm-cm.  This can be confusing because it is not obvious what it means like “miles per hour”.  It is simply the resistance through a 1cm X 1cm X 1cm cube of material, with full sheet contact at 2 opposing surfaces.  It is often misprinted as ohm/cm which is not a common unit of measure.

We measured the conductivity using a fixture we machined that clamps a sample between 2 sheet conductors and 1cm cubes printed on a Printrbot Simple Metal and machined from solid resin. 

 Measuring Volume Resistivity of Molded Resin

Printing Samples on Printrbot

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So how strong is it?

We have not done substantial mechanical testing on this product but have some subjective parameters that should be useful in comparing this material with others.

-Strength:  Fair strength.  More flexible than PLA, but less layer adhesion

-Stiffness:  Low, semi-flexible

-Heat Resistance:  Similar to PLA, use below 50C

-Layer Adhesion:  Fair layer adhesion.  Not as good as normal PLA

-Flexibility:  Filament is quite flexible but will break if bent repeatedly (particularly 2.85mm).  Printed parts are rigid if more than a mm or two thick.  Thin sections are somewhat flexible but fail along layer lines if flexed more than a few times.

-Failure Mode:  If flexed to breakage, failure will be along layer lines.

-Warping:  Very low warping

-Dual-Head compatibility:  Compatible with (sticks to) PLA in dual material prints

Printing

Proto-pasta Conductive PLA is quite easy to print and is compatible with most printers that can print PLA.

Parameters:

Bed Temp if available: 50C

Hot End Temp: 230C

Rewards

We have a number of rewards that we are excited to share! 

$15 + Shipping - 125g Loose Coil of Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

One 125g Loose coil (no spool) of high quality Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm diameter.  One coil is approximately 42 meters of 1.75mm filament and 16 meters of 2.85mm filament.

$39.50 + Shipping - 500g Spooled Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

One 500g spool of high quality Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm diameter.  One 500g spool is approximately 168 meters of 1.75mm filament and 64 meters of 2.85mm filament.

$142.50 + Shipping - 2000g Spooled Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

One 2Kg spool of high quality Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm diameter.  One 2Kg spool is approximately 672 meters of 1.75mm filament and 256 meters of 2.85mm filament.

$20 + Shipping - Stylus Kit

One of the great things about Proto-pasta Conductive PLA is that you can print projects that will control mobile device touch screens!  You could make braille overlays for virtual keypads, an I-device Stylus, or prosthetic fingertips! 

We chose to make a simple Stylus which is just a 3D printed pencil shape.  To make these work really well it helps if the tip is super soft and flexible to make a nice large surface area against the touch screen.  For this we used a little piece of anti-static foam used for shipping electronics devices.  It works great!!

Reward Includes:

1X 125g loose coil of Proto-pasta Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

1X piece of conductive foam for making the tip

1X link to design and printing files with detailed instructions

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$24 + Shipping - Creator Kit with 9V battery, 2LED's and flashlight files

One of the fun things to do with Proto-pasta Conductive PLA is to light up LED's in your 3D prints.  This kit includes all the materials you need to get started with lighting things up.  The 9V battery flashlight is a great first experiment and lets you easily print a working flashlight with an integrated switch using a single or dual head printer.

Reward includes:

1X 125g loose coil of Proto-pasta Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

1X 125g loose coil of Proto-pasta Translucent Red PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

2X super bright white LED's

1X high quality 9V battery

1X link to flashlight design and printing files

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$75 + Shipping - Controller Kit with Makey Makey included!!

Thanks to the great folks at Makey Makey, this reward includes a collectors edition Makey Makey kit!  With this and Proto-pasta Conductive PLA filament you will be able to use your 3D printed parts to interact with your computer!

By using Conductive PLA and normal PLA in dual-material prints, capacitive touch buttons can be integrated into 3D printed objects. Makey Makey is the perfect interface for experimenting with these touch sensors, just hook your print up using the included alligator clips and you can control your computer!

Reward includes:

1X 125g loose coil of Proto-pasta Conductive PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

1X 125g loose coil of Proto-pasta Translucent Red PLA in 1.75mm or 2.85mm

1X Makey Makey Collectors edition Kit. Includes a Makey Makey, USB Cable, 7 Alligator Clips, 6 Connector Wires, 20 Color Stickers, and carrying tin!

1X link to controller design and printing files with detailed instructions

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A Note on Safety

We are big supporters of DIY projects, experimentation, and Making in general, but please use caution!  Electricity, 3D printing, and the tools used in Making with these can be pretty dangerous.

We recommend only using our Conductive PLA filament for low voltage and low current projects.  Too much current will cause the material to heat.

Please keep safety in mind and have fun!

Thank you!!!

A big part of what makes 3D printing so amazing is the community around it.  We are supported by you, inspired by you, and challenged by you to create the most interesting materials we can. So thank you! 

We would like to give a special shout out to John Biehler for his continued support and use of his video footage in our Kickstarter.

- The Proto-pasta Team
 

Risks and challenges

We have launched 2 successful Kickstarter campaigns and delivered all rewards on time for both. While there are always risks, we have high confidence in this project because of the effort we have put in already to develop the material supply chain and manufacturing processes. We will make every effort to get every backer their rewards on time and with high quality standards.

The main risks are manufacturing and delivering rewards on time. Our supply and manufacturing processes are stable and we gave ourselves enough time to deliver a large number of rewards but if the demand gets too high a schedule slip is possible. If this happened we would let you know with an updated ship date for additional backers while the campaign is live so there are no surprises.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    125g of 1.75mm Conductive Proto-pasta filament. This is a loose coil of filament, packaged with Desiccant in a nylon bag. Ships USPS First Class Mail. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    125g of 2.85mm Conductive Proto-pasta filament. This is a loose coil of filament, packaged with Desiccant in a nylon bag. Ships USPS First Class Mail. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    9 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Stylus Kit for Touch Screen devices, 1.75mm. Includes small conductive foam piece for tip, files for printing, and 125g of Conductive PLA filament. Ships USPS First Class Mail. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    12 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Stylus Kit for Touch Screen devices, 2.85mm. Includes small conductive foam piece for tip, files for printing, and 125g of Conductive PLA filament. Ships USPS First Class Mail. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    2 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $24 or more About $24

    Creator Kit, 1.75mm. Includes high quality 9V battery, 2 ultra-bright white LED's, files for printing, 125g of Conductive PLA filament and 125g of Proto-pasta Translucent Red PLA. Ships USPS Priority Mail Domestic, First Class Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    26 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $24 or more About $24

    Creator Kit, 2.85mm. Includes high quality 9V battery, 2 ultra-bright white LED's, files for printing, 125g of Conductive PLA filament and 125g of Proto-pasta Translucent Red PLA. Ships USPS Priority Mail Domestic, First Class Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    2 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $39 or more About $39

    500g of 1.75mm Conductive Proto-pasta filament on a strong plastic spool. Spool dimenstions are 8in in diameter with a 2.05in inside diameter. Ships USPS Priority Mail Domestic, First Class Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    126 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $39 or more About $39

    500g of 2.85mm Conductive Proto-pasta filament on a strong plastic spool. Spool dimenstions are 8in in diameter with a 2.05in inside diameter. Ships USPS Priority Mail Domestic, First Class Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    18 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Controller kit, 1.75mm. Includes Collector's edition MAKEY MAKEY (Makey Makey, USB Cable, 7 Alligator Clips, 6 Connector Wires, 20 Color Stickers, and carrying tin!), files for printing, 125g of Conductive PLA filament and 125g of Proto-pasta Translucent Red PLA. Ships USPS Priority Mail Domestic, First Class Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    20 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Controller kit, 2.85mm. Includes Collector's edition MAKEY MAKEY (Makey Makey, USB Cable, 7 Alligator Clips, 6 Connector Wires, 20 Color Stickers, and carrying tin!), files for printing, 125g of Conductive PLA filament and 125g of Proto-pasta Translucent Red PLA. Ships USPS Priority Mail Domestic, First Class Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 2-6 weeks for international delivery.

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    3 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $142 or more About $142

    2000g of 1.75mm Conductive Proto-pasta filament on a strong plastic spool. Spool dimenstions are 12in in diameter with a 2.05in inside diameter. Ships FedEx Ground Domestic, Priority Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 1-2 weeks for international delivery.

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    20 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $142 or more About $142

    2000g of 2.85mm Conductive Proto-pasta filament on a strong plastic spool. Spool dimenstions are 12in in diameter with a 2.05in inside diameter. Ships FedEx Ground Domestic, Priority Mail international. Shipping additional. Allow 1-2 weeks for international delivery.

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    7 backers
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Funding period

- (20 days)