3D Printed Voltage Regulator Circuit Like PCB Circuit




About: My name is Dogan. I'm a Robotics PhD student at Oregon State University. I love building robots and its my life :) I built a giant ATAT Walker, I love biking, scuba diving, playing violin and preparing shor...

3D Printed Voltage Regulator Circuit like PCB,

Everyone knows that preparing a handmade PCB requires lots of knowledge and experience. You need to deal with acids and solders. With the enhancement on filament designs, today we are able to print conductive parts. So why not we 3D print circuits like PCB?

Here is my first 3D printed circuit like PCB. It is a voltage regulator that receives 5V to 12V as an input and gives constant 5V as an output. It is very easy to make. Just like plug and play, plug the circuit components and it will start working.


Step 1: 3D Printing Voltage Regulator's Circuit Board

3D printing Voltage Regulator's circuit board,

Printing setting of this part actually depends on you. However, I provide my settings in the pictures as well. The main issue is to be strong enough, you don't want it to be broken easily. Attached, you can find .stl file to print regulator circuit board. I used green PLA just to keep PCB color.

Step 2: 3D Printing Conductive Lines

3D printing Conductive Lines,

This is the most important step. Printing conductive lines. I buy my conductive PLA from Amazon. It worked very well but e careful about the resistance of the material. You want as low resistance as possible otherwise the circuit won't be an effective one.

Print these lines according to the setting that I provide. It is really tricky and you need to be slow while you are printing. The diameter of conductive PLA is 1.75mm which is not supported by Ultimaker, so I have publish another instructable only for this purpose. How to use 1.75 mm filament with Ultimaker2. Please read that instructable and follow the steps if you are willing to use Ultimaker for this project.

You can download the attached .stl file for line design and start 3D printing conductive lines!

If you want to buy Conductive PLA: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BDL4BY0/ref=...

Step 3: Assembling Voltage Regulator Circuit

Assembling Voltage Regulator Circuit,

To assemble the voltage regulator, you will need 5 circuit parts.

Here is the list:

1) 7805 5V voltage regulator (x1)

2) 100 micro farad capacitors (x2)

3) Screw-head circuit pins(x2)

With all these parts your circuit will be ready soon. First plug the 7805 into middle of the circuit. When you look at the circuit you will realize +,- signs that indicates power and ground. Middle leg of the 7805 should be inside of the ground hole. Second, plug 100 microfarad capacitors. Third, connect Screw-head circuit pins to the edges of our circuit. For all these components there are different holes on the printed board. See the pictures

Your circuit is ready for a test.

Step 4: First Trial of the 3D Printed Voltage Regulator Circuit

First trial of the 3D Printed Voltage Regulator Circuit,

I used a power supply to give 10V as an input to my 3D printed circuit. I gave 10V via jumper cables and receive 5.023V at the output, I measured it with the multimeter.

You can see my connection and voltage values from the pictures.

Warning: Just make sure that there is no shortcut on your circuit

Step 5: Bonus: 3D Printing Simple LED Circuit

Bonus: 3D printing simple LED circuit,

Here is much simple circuit. A basic LED circuit. Please use the conductive line settings for conductive lines and circuit board settings for circuit board. I mark them differently.

After you print both parts attach them to form one circuit. See the last picture

Step 6: Assemble Simple LED Circuit and Make It Work

Assemble simple LED Circuit and make it work,

To assemble the simple LED circuit, you will need 2 circuit parts.

Here is the list:

1) Screw-head circuit pin

2) LED (3V)

First plug the Screw-head circuit pin to the edge of our circuit. Then connect the LED into other end of our circuit. See the pictures Your circuit is ready for a test.

I used a power supply to give input to my 3D printed circuit. You can see my connections in the pictures. Also I would like to indicate that, LED is a little dimmed because my conductive lines are carrying high resistance.

Warning: Just make sure that there is no shortcut on your circuit

Step 7: 2 Basic Circuits and Things to Pay Attention

2 Basic Circuits and Things to Pay Attention,

I hope you enjoy with these simple 3D printed PCB like circuits. It i very easy to build them and assemble them. However, there are efficiency drawbacks.

Here is the list to pay attention for bigger projects:

1) Be careful about resistance per mm or cm. If its too high your circuit will be inefficient

2) Lines are fragile, be very gentle to them

3) Check any shortcuts, you don't want to harm your components

4) Measure pin diameter correctly and design your conductive lines accordingly. Don't forget to put tolerance. In my case I put 0.3 mm tolerance. For example if the pin diameter were 1 mm, I designed a 1.3mm hole.

Have fun with your new circuit ideas and projects :)



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    15 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I have a 10.8 v solar panel . can I use this to regulate current to 5 v

    2 replies

    Reply 6 months ago

    It has very high resistance. You should use normal circutis


    Reply 2 years ago

    Unfortunately you can't use this one. Due to high resistance it will kill your output voltage. However If you build the same circuit on pcb or copper circuit board, yes it will work.


    2 years ago

    Hi, Osdoyi! You mentioned you needed one filament with lower resistance. Check this out - this Electrifi filament may be the right one that you are looking for.


    space explorer

    2 years ago

    i bet efficiency is low tho and safety is uncertain. But it looks cool for fun goals :)

    Spaceman Spiff

    2 years ago

    Conductive 3D Printing, very cool!


    2 years ago

    A lot of work and PLA to replace a bit of circuit board. But maybe useful as part of a bigger project.

    What is the resistance of the trace, like for example between the ground terminals?

    Did you try it under load for a longer time? Like 1A for an hour? (The voltage regulator may need a heat sink)

    5 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Actually not that much work. You just draw the circuit lines and it will print it for you. Plus no more than 50 grams of PLA. It is an extra 1k ohm resistance. I should change the conductive material into the copper included.

    No, I didn't try it under load for a long time, I should try it. Thanks, I note it down as a future work


    Reply 2 years ago

    > Actually not that much work. You just draw the circuit lines and it will
    print it for you. Plus no more than 50 grams of PLA.

    Sure. So let's compare:
    You design the circuit, convert the traces to 3D and the negative thereof to hold them and then you wait until the parts got printed (can't speak about the work to prepare the print bed, the printer itself, cooling time, change of material etc, as I don't use 3D printers) snap the parts together (let's hope everything went okay the first try) and put the parts in - that last part may be faster then the traditional way. Time: 1+hour ? Cost: 2$ for PLA, 2$ share of printers cost? - I'm just guessing here.

    Design the circuit, break of a piece of prototype board, put the parts in, solder them and build the connections with wire (depending on the type of prototype board) and done. Less than 5 minutes if you have the parts around and the solder iron hot. Cost? Few cents for the snip of board and solder.

    > It is an extra 1k
    ohm resistance. I should change the conductive material into the copper

    Wait, what? Do you really mean one kilo Ohm? As in one thousand Ohm? If true, that's a total deal breaker. Totally, absolutely, finally. Sorry, bro, there are some circuits than can live with high impedance connections, a power supply is not one of them. A power supply with 1k inner resistance is worthless. Do the calculations. The beefy 7805, (that is able to push 1A to the load in a well designed circuit) will be able to drive at most 5mA through the lines - and that is if you short circuit the output terminal. For every 1mA of flowing current, 1V will be lost in the traces. There is no regulation any more. It's a voltage limiter at best.

    Well, you did measure 5V at the output - because the input resistance of your meter is in the MegaOhm range - so next to no current was flowing. Measuring a power supply without load is worthless.

    Good news: You won't need a heat sink.

    Don't get me wrong, it is a nice idea to 3D print circuits. Even with current material limitations it might be useful for some high resistance sensor applications - but for a power supply? No.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I second verence's point. The PLA you linked has a resistivity of 15 ohm-cm. That means if your trace is 2.5mm (0.25cm) deep and 5mm (0.5cm) wide, then you will have a resistance of 120 ohms per cm of trace. However, if you can make the traces even wider and even shorter, you could make a board that could just barely work in the real world...

    ...That being said, great proof-of-concept! Maybe as conductive SLA technology improves and 3D printing becomes more ubiquitous, a multi-nozzle 3D printer could render printing PCB's into a single-stage process! It could transform an industry that is currently multiple suppliers, multiple steps, involves messy chemistry, etc. But right now that industry has economies of scale and decades of refinement on its side.

    Kudos on a very educational and forward-thinking science project!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you, SLA technology can be useful as well. Good idea. Multi nozzle will definitely play great role on decreasing time.

    Thanks again :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Let me give you details about printing the circuit. Printing green part took 40 mins, and printing lines took 22 mins. Material change took 10 mins. Attaching circuit components 10 mins. Overall it takes around 82 mins, 1 hour 22 mins. Not that much long, and with this way, you are not using and acids or soldering, no risk at all, which means that it is hard to hurt yourself or burn yourself with soldering machine.

    Also it is easier to draw circuits with cad software instead of using eagle or any other software to generate lines. If you want to buils your own PCB in a conventional way (not fabicating) you need to get the drawing from circuit drawing software, then print them from a normal laser printer on transperent sheet, then iron it on top of copper plate, then iron it for 30 hours with your all arm power. Than put it into acid bath for 30 more minutes, then shake acid bath gently without splashing, then take your board and clean it (5 mins) than drill the holes for attaching components to your PCB with a vertical drill (10mins). Then solder them (10mins). This requires more work and more care then printing and total time of 1 hour 25 mins with lots of human error and work. When you print them you just wait for your part to come out and attach them like you build lego. Easier, safer, more comfortable. (If you are using good printer you don't need to worry about print bed, cooling time. These kind of variables are very easy to overcome when you get used to 3D printer or buy good one)

    So in terms of time they are almost equal but depends on your circuit size, it will change. In terms of safety 3D printing circuits is better. And everyone can built it easily after small learning process. It is hard to learn PCB creation from zero.

    Cost comparison will again depend on circuit size on terms of money and time. As you said it is going to be one time cost to buy soldering machine vs buying PLA each time but it depend to person.

    Extra 1K is a drawback of this project unfortunately. I am looking for other PLA materials to develop my concept. There are many options. Next time I will use a conductive PLA that has copper particles as a conductive and see the resistance. If I could buy or borrow a personal 3D printer one day, I can speed up my progress. This extra resistance is decreasing the efficiency of my circuit. However 3D printing the circuits is promising area and open to new developments. I will keep going.

    Additionally, with the further developments I believe 3D printed circuits will be more safe against shortcuts in terms of protecting circuit components. If I can achieve to develop a conductive PLA that has low resistance and melts quickly under a shortcut to break connection, it can be a great achievement.

    We will wait for the future. Thanks for your comments and your time.


    2 years ago

    Interesting and maybe a step to the real printed circuit. I wonder if the circuit will get contact corrosion at the gaps between the parts legs and the printing material. I assume due the lack of solder those gaps could behave like a battery together with humidity and could corrode. In my experience the low voltage stuff mostly fails because of a unwanted "resistor" with a few ohms ;-)
    Anyway, keep on developing it!

    1 reply