Three-dimensional(3D) printing conductive material on fabric

Primary author: Dan Liang
Faculty sponsor: Hang Liu

Primary college/unit: Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Campus: Pullman


3D printing is an additive manufacture technology, which prints material in a layer by layer mode. Because 3D printing technology has lots of advantages, such as personalized customization, lower parts cost, accurate production, increasing material utilization rate, and accelerating prototyping and manufacturing by eliminating costly model, it becomes a fashionable technology in various industries. In the textile industry, there is great potential to impart advanced functions to traditional textile materials by 3D printing, such as electrical conductivity, sensitivity in heat and chemicals, and shape memory. FDM (fused deposition modeling) is the most used type of 3D printing. However, FDM printed part will increase stiffness and decrease adhesion to textiles. Direct inkjet writing (DIW) has better adhesion and flexibility to fabric than FDM. In this research, the DIW of conductive polymers on three textile fabrics (100% cotton, 100% polyester, and 50%cotton/50% polyester blend) was explored. The resistivity change with tensile stretching was evaluated and compared to FDM. The electricity resistivity change of printed fabrics with abrasion test were measured. The research adopts the PLA, PEO, and PCL as part of the printing material and carbon nanotube as the conductive material. Resistivity measurement, tensile test, abrasion test, FTIR, and TGA are implemented in the research. Overall, FDM printed fabrics had lower resistivity (high conductivity) compared to DIW printed ones. However, the FDM samples are more brittle than DIW. The resistivity of DIW printed fabric is more stable compared to FDM during the tensile test. DIW printed samples performed better during abrasion test.