This project explores another way to approach papercrafting. It is based on my interest in developing design tools and methods that integrate craft materials with mechanical, electrical, computing components. While I’m at the Pier 9 residency, I’ve spent most of my time to investigate the Mcor IRIS 3D paper printer, which literally creates 3D sculptures by cutting and attaching a stack of paper sheets. This simple mechanism can be combined with printing conductive circuits on paper to embed circuits into the 3d paper printing process. In other words, we can print out circuits on paper by adding silver ink into the black ink tank instead and insert the circuit printed paper sheet into the stack of paper in the printer tray to create the circuit embedded 3D objects.
Step 1: Things You Need
Step 2: Print a Circuit on Paper
First, set up the conductive ink printer following this link:
There is also an instructables link you can follow:
You might notice that the key point here is to use a printer having refillable ink tanks/cartridges and fill it with conductive ink. Once the printer is set, we need a circuit design. I designed this simply for two LEDs with power.
Step 3: Set Up the Modeling File in the SliceIT
The Mcor printer is connected to its own software, SliceIT. Once the stl file is loaded in the system, I placed the model in the center of the screen and rotate X angle: 270˚, Y: 0˚, Z: 90˚.
Then we need to generate layers of the model. The software measures 0.1mm as one layer and adds four layers for the platform at the beginning. Since the height of the body modeling is 46.6mm, it calculates 470 layers for the total (466 layers for the body and 4 layers for the platform).
Step 4: Load Paper Sheets to the Mcor and Print
Then we need to load paper into the printer tray and make sure to include the circuit printed paper sheet at the right position. The bottom thickness is designed as 0.3mm so I embedded the circuit printed sheet to the 7th layer of the paper stack (three layers for the lamp bottom and four layers for the platform).
When I press “Print Model”, the software shows estimated time. This model is expected to take 12 hours 25 minutes.
Step 5: Take It Off the Model
Once the printing is completed, take off the bed. Now we need to get rid of the rest in order to carefully take off the print. I used a tweezer to extract the detailed parts.
Step 6: Mount LEDs
It’s almost there. Now just attach SMD LEDs on the circuit printed paper sheet using the conductive glue. I dried it in a room temperature for a half of a day (in the instruction, it’s suggested to cure at 25°C in 24 hours or 80°C in 1 hour). Once it’s dried, connect it to your power using the wire alligator clips to light it up.
Step 7: Want Some More?
With little tweaks on modeling and paper load, now you can go further. For instance, I added two long legs and connected the upper layer to the lower layer circuit by using the same conductive glue. My example demonstrates only more LEDs but this idea can be extended to embed multi-layered circuits into the 3D paper printing process.