To date, Parthy is the force behind such innovative materials as BendLay, Laywood-D3 and Laybrick.
But the development of new printing media has not been without hurdles to overcome for Parthy. He says many smart materials for 3D printing processes already exist in the prosumer market, but are restricted from further refinement by patent holders. Parthy points to the temperature controlled build chamber patent held by Stratasys as an example.
He calls himself “an old school anti-warp fighter” who tests material features with a series of home-built tools. One of those tools, a vicat heat distortion gauge, is filled with sunflower oil instead of the common glycerine.
In developing his Laywoo-D3 and Laybrick materials, scaling up from blending polymers with kitchen devices to blending them with massive machines in the hundreds of pounds range posed the biggest challenge.
“No company wanted to blend, dry and extrude only a few kilograms,” Parthy said. “One ton would have to be the first minimum order. I had to find a company willing to collect branches for the wood fibers and then an extruding company that had all the necessary equipment in-house – and enough patience with me.”
Perhaps his most intriguing material, wood fiber-based Laywoo-D3 seems to include rings like those found in trees. “I wanted to have a filament without warp, for printing bigger objects,” Parthy said. “After putting pigments into the blend which I thought would reduce the warp, I found, after lot of failures, an optically interesting rough wood-containing filament. It was only later that I discovered the tree ring effect.” The tree ring look of the finished printed object comes from variations in printing temperature.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!