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Printing Ferrofluids: Paramagnetic Filament makes Magnetic/Conductive Objects

Posted by Idolcrasher 
Printing Ferrofluids: Paramagnetic Filament makes Magnetic/Conductive Objects
November 16, 2011 07:17AM
I have an idea for a revolutionary RepRap printing material. I call it Paramagnetic Filament. In blunt terms, it would be a plastic filament, impregnated with a ferrofluid, which is electrically conductive and can be effected by a magnetic field. It can also be used to print permanent magnets if printed in the presence of a strong magnetic field.

Let me explain the idea behind the filament and how it could be applied.

Imagine for a minute a ferrofluid. Considering that you are nerdy enough to browse the RepRap forum, you probably already know what a ferrofluid is winking smiley

Here is a nifty video on how to make a ferrofluid at home with printer ink and cooking oil : [www.youtube.com]

Ferrofluids do not necessarily retain a magnetic field. While there are ferrofluids which maintain a magnetic field, most are simply a suspension of ferrous nano particles in a fluid.

"Ferrofluids usually do not retain magnetization in the absence of an externally applied field and thus are often classified as "superparamagnets" rather than ferromagnets." -Wikipedia.

So a ferrofluid is an electrically conductive liquid (its metal remember) which can be effected by magnets (paramagnetic) or be a full blown liquid magnet itself(ferromagnetic).

I believe that both paramagnetic and ferromagnetic fluids have exciting potential as a printed material within a reprap.

Now imagine that a plastic fillament could be impregnated with a ferrofluid, in such a fashion that the filament retains the conductive and magnetic properties of the fluid.

This would give rise to a few amazing possibilities:

A filament impregnated with a paramagnetic fluid could:
1: Be used to draw conductive circuit paths in, on and around our 3D printed printed objects. Think 3D circuit boards!
2: Print components (capacitors, inductors, resistors) could be printed right into the object. This could be especially true if another printable plastic could be used as a dialectic. Bring on the Multi-Headed RepRaps!
3. It is also possible that if extruded in the presence of a strong magnetic field (a strong controllable electromagnet under the printer bed) that the printed paramagnetic fluid could harden into a permanent magnet. This would be akin to the way that molten iron in the presence of a magnetic field turns into a permanent magnet when it hardens. The elctromagnet under the print tray would be energized whenever a permenant magent was being printed. The electromagnet's polarity can be controlled to determin the polarity of the magnet you are printing. Printable permanent magnets within your prints would lead to all kinds of great pieces, parts, machines and objects that man has not yet imagined.

These abilities could allow us to print very complex machines. In theory you could print a machine that has sockets for microprocessors, electronics, and batteries which is ready to function immediately once those parts are plugged in.

Just imagine a RepRap that when self replicating prints the electonic circuitry inside the new reprap's support structure. All you need to do is insert a cheap pre-programmed chip into its printed socket to be the brain! Now that is a self-replicating machine!

Not only that, but imagine printing an electric motor! Motor printing would be possible because with paramagnetic filament you can print magnets, coils and conductive paths; this would change the world. This would lead to a RepRap printing it's own motors.

If the suspended metal particles in the filament can be used to strenghthen the prints, then perhaps the reprap could print its own support rods as well.

Paramagnetic Filament would improve the RepRap's ability to self replicate and improve the usefulness of the objects it can print; strengthening our symbiotic relationship with the machine as its "nectar" sweetens. I believe that a new printable material such as a SuperParamagnetic Filament could lead to RepRaps which print 80-99% of themselves and dramatically advance the complexity/usefulness of the objects that can be printed on them.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/16/2011 07:23AM by Idolcrasher.
Re: Printing Ferrofluids: Paramagnetic Filament makes Magnetic/Conductive Objects
November 16, 2011 07:38AM
... maybe some hurdles to overcome:
- common ferrofluids aren't conductive ... the extreme low amount of (ferro oxidic!) particles and the molecular coating with fatty acid molecules will prevent conduction of current ...
- conductive fluids (mostly high viscous pastes) consists of dispersed silver-flakes, that aren't magnetic ...
- conductivity starts, when the flakes settles and the fluid vanishes between them ...
- 'hardened' ferrofluids have extrem weak magnetic fields - not comparable to any magnet sintered from powder ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Printing Ferrofluids: Paramagnetic Filament makes Magnetic/Conductive Objects
November 17, 2011 02:20AM
A totally fair statement that there are hurdles to overcome.

Big hurdles if this printing material is supposed to be cheap too.

I think a lot of trial and error might be in store for the person attempting to create such a filament. It is fun to think that this would be a quest for the perfect filament, much the same way Edison was looking for the perfect filament for his light bulb.

There may be other ways of generating a paramagnetic filament as well. The actual useable filament would be the end goal.

You actually mentioned magnetic powder. Rather than impregnating a plastic filament with a liquid, a powder may make more sense. Once the filament is molten in an extruder, it may take on ferro fluid characteristics.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/17/2011 02:24AM by Idolcrasher.
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