Conductive Filament?

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Conductive Filament?

Postby thechewiestbacca » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:33 pm

I was looking through a list of exotic filaments the other day, and one of them was a conductive filament. The only thing I found online was that it doesn't stick to the bed very well, and it generally sucks.
Assuming that it worked, and printed great, what kind of projects could you do with it? And aren't you essentially extruding a wire?

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Re: Conductive Filament?

Postby timskloss » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:59 pm

Not exactly a wire, but a conductive volume. This material is good for making enclosures or parts where you need to shield electromagnetic interference or protect from static charges. I don't think it is conductive like copper wire, more like a resistor.
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Re: Conductive Filament?

Postby Xenocrates » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:05 pm

I'm mostly going to agree with Tim. While some such as the 90% copper filament might be more wire like, the majority of the filaments are not what I would use for wiring (Mind you, with a sufficiently large area, even a high resistivity material has somewhat workable resistance, but it will never be a great conductor) I would think of using them for say, ESD shielding (just conductive but high enough resistance to avoid picking up static charge while mostly insulating it), rather than powering LED's. It's all down to data-sheets from my perspective. I would usually prefer to run a wire though.
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Re: Conductive Filament?

Postby Reikal » Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:39 am

It does open up interesting possibilities for electro plating without the need to paint the object first.
I currently use an acetone & graphite mix to create a conductive layer but this does of course lose some detail.

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Re: Conductive Filament?

Postby Qdeathstar » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:51 pm

Hmm, i thought i saw on the FAQ's of the conductive filament that it won't support electroplating? Couldd you expand on your remarks, Reikal?

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Re: Conductive Filament?

Postby Reikal » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:19 am

That would likely be brand dependent.
If its the usual Graphite & PLA mix it will electro-plate, but it's not easy.

The high resistance and coarse surface mean that you really need to work on preperation before it will give a good result.

With my parts i used 2-3 coats of Acetone& Graphite soloution which obscures all of the printers artifact (layerlines, seams etc)
It is vital to wear latex gloves when doing this (PVC melts in acetone) and you must not touch that part with bare hands between the final coat and the end of the plating, and oil contamination will leave finger prints.

Once dry it has be be burnished to give a smooth hard surface.

Cathode can be attached by drilling a suitable hole into the part, filling the hole with acetone & graphite and embedding the wire.

Because the resistance is so high it will plate very very slowly. I run at around double the normal current and leave it in for up to 24 hours depending on the thickness of plating required. Ideally you would turn down the power after the first 6 hours when there's a good build up starting.

It's also important to have the electro plate bath agitated (fish tank air pump and air stone are ideal) the high current will 'burn' the areas nearest the anodes without this.

It's trial and error and i'm still learning, but basically if it's conductive you should be able to plate it. Even if it still needs a coat of acetone and graphite having a conductive base will still improve the results and speed up the process.
I'll start a thread on the method when i get a chance to perfect it a little more.

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