FAQs

Electrifi FAQ

Electrifi Filament is a non-hazardous, proprietary metal-polymer composite that consists primarily of a biodegradable polyester and copper.

The relationship between resistance and resistivity is given by the following equation:

R= ρ L/(π(d/2)^2 )

Where: ρ: Resistivity constant of the filament, in Ω cm; L: Length of the filament, in cm; d: diameter of the filament, in cm2; R: Resistance, in ohms (Ω)

If you plug in 10 cm for the length, 0.176 cm for the diameter, and 0.006 ohm cm for the resistivity, you should get a calculated resistance of 2.5 Ohm. However, if you put your multimeter probes on the ends of a piece of Electrifi filament with a length of 10 cm, you will likely see a higher resistance. This is because of the contact resistance between the probes and the filament. To reduce (but not completely eliminate) contact resistance, we apply silver paste to the ends of the filament being measured. With silver paste, the contact resistance drops to about 0.5 ohm. We use the silver paste from Electron Microscopy Sciences, product number 12640. Once the silver paste is applied, it may take around 10-30 min for the silver paste to dry completely. We typically let it dry overnight for more accurate results. Now try again with the multimeter to measure the resistance of the filament. Make sure to press down firmly to ensure good electrical contact.  Note that the resistance of your multimeter leads may also add a bit to the resistance of the measurement; touch the probes together to determine their resistance, and subtract this value from the measured resistance of the filament. The table below lists the results from four randomly selected pieces of Electrifi Filament measured in this manner, showing an average resistivity of 0.006 Ω cm.

resistance resistance_table

The resistivity of printed objects will depend on a number of variables, such as the details of the printed line (shell thickness, infill pattern, etc.) and the direction that you measure (between printed layers, along a line, etc). We printed 10 cm-long horizontal traces and a 10 cm-tall vertical towers with Electrifi and two other conductive filaments (Black Magic 3D and Proto-pasta) for comparison. See here for the stl file for this test. The traces and towers were printed at a temperature of 140 °C for Electrifi and 190 °C for Proto-past and Black Magic 3d, speed of 15 mm/s, a nozzle size of 0.8 mm, and a wall thickness of 0.7 mm. The results are shown in the tables below.

printed_resistance

From left to right: Printed lines and towers of Electrifi, Black Magic 3D, and Proto-Pasta Filament.

printed_resistance_tables

Electrical contact between a wire and Electrifi Filament can be improved with silver paste, screw terminals, or a short piece of melted Electrifi filament. We usually use screw terminals without silver paste to form electrical contact between a wire and the filament. To compare these methods, we printed three identical traces (0.2 cm x 10 cm x 0.2 cm) and then applied silver paste, attached screws, or melted Electrifi filament on the ring terminals of each trace. If you want to print out this test trace yourself, you can download the stl file.We then measured the resistance between the two contacts with a multimeter on the silver paste, the screws, or the ends of the wires.  As you can see from the table below, silver paste forms the most conductive contact due to is low contact resistance of 0.5 ohm, followed by screw terminals (which have a contact resistance of 2.4 ohm), and finally a melted piece of Electrifi.

contacts

From top to bottom: silver paste, screw terminal, and melted Electrifi contact.

contacts_table

To make electrical contact to LEDs, we just heat the filament for a few seconds with a solder reflow tool at 100 °C, and press the LEDs directly into the softened filament.  Electrical contact to the LED improves as the filament cools, which can take up to 10 min or so. led_deposition

Place and align the leads of IC on the printed pads. Then heat the pads for a few seconds with a solder reflow tool at 100 °C, and press the IC directly into the pads. To ensure better contact with the leads, it may be necessary to add a bit of silver paste to the point of contact between the IC and the filament after pressing the IC into the filament.

AttinyLeft to Right: ATtiny sitting on the pads, ATtiny pressed into the pads, silver paste added at the point of contact with the ATtiny leads.

There is no change in the conductivity after the printed traces (0.2 cm x 10 cm x 0.2 cm) are exposed in a room temperature environment (21 ± 0.5 °C) for at least a month. To accelerate the stability testing, a printed trace was tested at a temperature of 85 °C and a relative humidity of 85% for 24 hours. Under these very corrosive conditions, often used for accelerated testing of electrical devices, the appearance of the traces did not change and the resistivity doubled.

stability

The best print speed for obtaining low resistivity with 1.75 mm Electrifi filament is between 15-45 mm/s. The table below shows the results for three print speeds for test traces 10 cm long, 0.2 cm wide, and 0.2 cm tall printed at 150 °C with a nozzle size of 0.8 mm and a layer height of 0.5 mm. As you can see, the resistivity is nearly constant over this print range.

print_speed

The best print temperature for 1.75 Electrifi filament is 140 to 160 °C. The table below shows that for traces printed at print speed of 15 mm/s with a nozzle size of 0.8 mm and a layer height of 0.5 mm, there is a slight increase in the resistivity with increasing temperature.

print_temperature

The best print speed for obtaining low resistivity with 2.85 mm Electrifi filament is between 10-30 mm/s. The table below shows the results for three print speeds for test traces 5 cm long, 0.2 cm wide, and 0.2 cm tall printed at 130 °C with a nozzle size of 0.5 mm and a layer height of 0.25 mm. As you can see, the resistivity decreases with decreasing print speed.

285_printspeedv2

The best print temperature for 2.85 Electrifi filament is 130 to 150 °C. The table below shows that for traces printed at print speed of 10 mm/s with a nozzle size of 0.5 mm and a layer height of 0.25 mm, there is a slight increase in the resistivity with increasing temperature.

285_printtempv2 Note to the Ultimaker users: The heating blocks used on the Ultimaker printers are ~3 times thinner those used on most 3D printers. Therefore, a higher print temperature of 180 °C or above is necessary due to the narrow heating zone, resulting in a higher resistivity (e.g. 0.045 ohm cm) for a printed trace.

To test flow rate, infill pattern, and shell thickness, traces were printed at a print speed of 15 mm/s and a print temp of 150 °C with a nozzle size of 0.4 mm and a layer height of 0.2 mm.  The results below indicate that a flow rate of 110% and parallel infill results in slightly better resistivity.  Printing at a lower flow rate results in objects that are not 100% filled, especially for the zig-zag infill pattern.  Depending on the slicing software, it may be possible to adjust the infill pattern.  In Cura we did this by adjusting the wall thickness from 0.4 to 0.8 mm, which changed the infill from a zig-zag to a parallel pattern.  The parallel pattern is slightly better, likely due to better continuity and fill along the line.

infill

Zigzag on the top (left to right: 100, 110, 120% flow rate); parallel line on the bottom (left to right: 100, 110, 120% flow rate)

infill_table

Vertical towers (0.5 cm x 0.5 cm x 10 cm) were printed at two different layer thickness with 0.4 and 0.8 mm nozzles, respectively. The print speed was 15 mm/s and print temp was 140 °C for both towers. The results shown in the table indicate the tower with smaller number of layers has a lower resistivity.

layer_height

Left:200 layers with a layer height of 0.5 mm; right:500 layers with a layer height of 0.2 mm. layer_height

Electrifi Filament can be printed most flat substrates. We tested a few substrates with print temperature at 140 °C and build plate at room temperature. Among all the substrates tested with a print temperature at 140 °C and with the build plate at room temperature (recommended printing conditions), we found Electrifi adhered very well to polycarbonate, polyacrylate, ABS, polystyrene, nylon, PET, PVC, wood board, cardboard, foam board, construction paper, and cotton fabric. The Electrifi also adhered to polypropylene and polyethylene during printing but the prints could be peeled off easily to become free standing circuits. This is useful if you would like to transfer a printed circuit to a curved surface.

The melting point of Electrifi Filament is approximately 60 ºC.  Below we shown a plot of resistance versus temperature for the Electrifi Filament.  As you can see, once the filament reaches its melting point the resistance increases dramatically.

resistance_versus_temperature
The maximum current density that a printed trace of Electrifi can handle without melting depends primarily on the surface to volume ratio of the trace, which in turn will affect its cooling rate. To test the relationship between current density and surface to volume ratio, we printed 20 mm long traces of Electrifi with different cross-sectional areas to determine how their maximum current density varied. Each sample was coated with silver paste at the ends to reduce contact resistance. After allowing the silver paste to dry overnight, alligator clips were attached to the ends, and current was applied to each sample while measuring voltage. Starting at 1 mA the current applied to each sample was increased in increments of 1 mA every 5 seconds. For each sample the point of failure was defined as the point at which the resistance of the sample increased by 50% compared to its initial value. The plot shows the linear relationship between the maximum current density and the surface to volume ratio for each sample. This equation can be used to calculate the maximum current density for a given trace size. For example, a 1x1 mm trace fails at 200 mA, so it should be used for currents of 100 mA or less. An 8x8 mm trace fails at 3.5 A, so it should be used for currents below 1.75 A. current-density-figure-for-faqv2

The MSDS for Electrifi Filament is available here: Electrifi_MSDS


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CAUTION:  Our materials and products may be used by skilled, experienced users, and at their own risk.  Do not ingest Electrifi Filament.  The use of heating elements to heat Electrifi filament can result in burns if the skin comes into direct contact with materials at high temperatures.  Users should follow manufacturer’s warnings when using silver paste and other 3rd party products.  Appropriate safety measures should be taken when working with electricity.  Users are solely responsible for their own conduct while using our products, and for any consequences thereof. Multi3D accepts no liability for damage, injury or any legal responsibility incurred directly or indirectly from the use of Electrifi Filament or other products sold on this website.
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