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Metal wire embedding in fused filament 3-D printing

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This is a protocol for embedding thin metal wires in a FFF RepRap style 3-D print. One would want to do this to improve the thermal characteristics of the print - for example if you were making a heat exchanger. For more info see:

Steps[edit | edit source]

  1. Use multi-head GigabotHX to print polymer spacers between fluid channels. This can be used to replace the need to print connectors between fluid channels (or the spacers can be printed during the fluid channel print. Then these spacers should have a tab that extends beyond the x-y zone of the fluid channels to allow it to be bolted together using bolts and a threaded rod. You may need 4 rods to make a solid block.
  2. Print the fluid channels up to a height that you want an array of metal wires and print the first half of the hole. Note the stl/code should only have 1/2 the hole.
  3. Stop the polymer printing and move the array of heads out of the way.
  4. Make a jig -- prototypes can me a square hollow wood frame with nails placed at intervals on the y axis the spacing you want be between your wires. Secure the wire on 1 corner of the frame and make a square zig zag pattern between the nails. Secure wire on other end. Cut wire from coil.
  5. Use pick and place head to place jig so that wires lay in the half holes in the fluid channels.
  6. Connect power source to either end of the wire and push in enough current to begin melting the polymer directly touching the wire - continue until weight of the assembly depresses wire to the level of the side plastic. Cut power.
  7. Resume FFF polymer printing with the multiheads until several layers have covered wires.
  8. When wire and polymer cool and become solid cut wires at the polymer interface.
  9. Repeat as necessary.