Developer's Kit
MULTI-MATERIAL 3D PRINTER
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Materials FAQ

Materials


What do you supply with the Developer's Kit in terms of materials?

Plastic - Thermoplastic supplied with Developer's Kit Printer is 1.75mm PLA on a 0.75kg spool from a trusted and reliable vendor.

We currently include:

  • "Get It First" Orders: 4 x spools
  • Pre-order Deposit Orders: 2 x spools
  • New Orders: 1 x spool
If you need more, you can always purchase from us off our store

Conductive Silver Ink - We currently include:

   • "Get It First" Orders: 10 x barrel syringes
   • Pre-order Deposit Orders: 5 x barrel syringes
   • New Orders: 2 x barrel syringes

We also sell more conductive silver ink to Developer's Kit customers via our store when you require more.
NOTE: 1 barrel syringe holds about 3ml of material. Under typical conditions, a syringe gets about 60m of trace.
Check the Developer's Kit "Box Contents" page for more information about other items we provide with your purchase.

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Can you use your conductive paste with the higher temp plastics such as Ultem in a heated chamber?

The Voxel8 Developer's Kit Printer is optimized for printing with PLA. We have not tried Ultem in our machine. We recommend using our 1.75mm PLA filament with the conductive silver ink. You are welcome to try other plastics, but you may have to tweak the silver pressure settings if working with a heated bed above 45 C.

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Over time, if your conductive paste is exposed do you see any whiskers form?

We have not noticed whiskers. We recommend keeping the ink under 100C for extended operating conditions.

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What other kinds of materials have you printed besides silver conductive ink and thermoplastic?

We are always experimenting with new materials in our printers. We've done silicone, epoxy in addition to our silver. We are looking to newer materials as well.

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What is your ink cartridge setup like?

Both our material heads are hot swappable. They are magnetically coupled into the carriages for easy maintenance when needed.

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What is the viscosity range of your dispense system?

New electro-pneumatic regulator allows for adjustment of pressures during prints, and auto-calibration of material flow rates.

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Have you printed on glass fibre composite?

Yes, the ink adheres fairly well, but is is recommended to stick to PLA and standard silver for best results.

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Can you print an insulating ink also, so the silver can be insulated and protected?

Our printer currently supports one 1 pneumatically driven print head for the conductive silver ink. We may release an upgrade in the future, however. 

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Have you printed on polyimide sheet or flex PCBs?

Yes, we can get excellent adhesion printing on it. However, as shipped out Developer's Kit is meant to print the conductive silver ink with thermoplastic.

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What temperature is the finished silver ink rated to?
It has been tested to 80℃.

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Can you print on already dried silver ink, and have a low conductivity joint?

We recommend embedding connectors if you plan on printing large parts that should be connected in assembly. Although the connections may be made post printing it will not offer the same resistance in terms of conductivity.

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Can we solder to the silver traces? Do we need a specific solder? e.g. leaded/lead-free?

It is very difficult and not recommended, but has been done. We do not recommend soldering to the conductive silver ink that is embedded into the PLA thermoplastic. It has a high degree of melting the plastic next to the connection point (if you are not extremely careful). Also, the connection between the wire you attach and conductive silver, will not be very strong.

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Please supply sheet resistivity value for Silver Conductor (units should be mOhm/sq./mil).

~ 10 m Ω/sq/mil
~ 0.01 Ω/sq/mil

Conversation Factor: 2.5 E^-7 Ω•m
 = 9.842 Ω/sq/mil
 = 0.0984 Ω/sq/mil


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Can you supply a date for when SDS data will be available for the materials?

It is available for download here.

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Can you supply details on what the storage and handling conditions will be for all materials?

Store at room temperature (20-25 degrees C). Cap ink barrels with both end and tip caps when not in use. Wearing disposable gloves when handling silver is recommended.

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Do you have an understanding of what the impact may be on the material for international transportation as some material viscosity changes when stored in a cargo area of an aircraft?
From laboratory testing, we expect none/minimal changes in viscosity from international shipping. If the ink arrives frozen, wait for it to fully thaw at room temperature.

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Are there any special handling conditions or pre treatment required to the silver paste prior to use (i.e does the silver settle out causing separation between itself and the carrier)?

Silver should be used as it is received from the Voxel8 Shipping box. Silver ink should not be pre-treated.

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Are there any recommendations for safe disposal of any waste material?
Large amounts of uncured ink should be disposed of following standard laboratory procedures. Multi-material 3D prints (with/without electrical components) from the Developer's Kit Printer should be treated as e-waste material, and not be recycled.

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Can I print the silver trace to glass and will it adhere?

Yes, it will adhere.

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About how much material was used to build the quadcopter and antenna on the webpage?

The quad probably uses about 1/8 of a silver cartridge. A cartridge is estimated to cost around $60, but is dependent on final manufacturing and material costs at time of order. 1 cartridge gets you about 60m of trace under typical settings. antenna depends on which one you've seen. We print a lot of them.

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Is it possible to print copper instead of silver?

It is possible, but it will just be much much lower conductivity. We don't currently make a copper ink. You could supply your own, however.

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Does the conductivity change in the Z compared to the X-Y?

It is very difficult to measure the conductivity in Z because the cross section is not always the same. It does not look like a perfect cylinder because of the layering. Also, the traces are wider in Z, so generally the resistance in Z is significantly lower than the resistance in XY.

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What types of material connections have been made with conductive ink (gold, nickel plate etc)?

We have connected to many different types of SMD connectors, but we do not have a list yet.

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Planned material other than PLA and release date estimation?

None to announce at this time. We will send out announcements via our mailing list which you may join.

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Can I adjust the flow rate and or the pressure to adjust to specifications of our customized ink (e.g. we intend to print ceramic and conductive metal pastes)?

         Short answer: Printing other inks is possible, but you will have to test and optimize on your own. We can only support you in the printing silver conductive ink and thermoplastic which our DK supports out of the box.

Long answer: Yes. Printing a ceramic is definitely doable. You can print anything that is a paste with a maximum agglomerate size 50 times smaller than the nozzle ID. The question is how well it will hold its shape, and is it too viscous to extrude with our pressure system. None of this has to do with the composition of the particles that are in the paste though.

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What would be the specifications of the ink regarding rheology or particle size to be compatible with your printhead?

You can use your own ink, but we can't offer support to materials we don't sell.

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Can I use my own ink instead of the Voxel8 conductive silver ink?

Yes, you can use your own ink, but we can't offer support to materials we don't make or sell. Also, we cannot guarantee you will not damage your Voxel8 machine by using exotic and foreign materials in it. We recommend using the thermoplastic and conductive silver ink that we provide. Contact us for more info, or if you have questions.

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What is the minimal nozzle diameter of the FFF thermoplastic extruder nozzle?

We can only guarantee success at 0.35mm.

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What is the nozzle diameter of the silver extrusion nozzle?

We guarantee dispensing at 250 microns. It is possible for silver down to 150 microns. However, the nozzle has to be the right length of the retraction system or will not put it in the right position. 

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Is the nozzle exchangeable (e.g. to go to smaller line features)?

Yes, but it is not supported.

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What is the conductivity of the Voxel conductive silver ink?

The bulk volume resistivity of the conductive ink is < 2.9 x 10-7 Ω.m.

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What annealing steps are necessary for the conductive ink?

None, the conductive ink is designed to exhibit exceptional electrical conductivity upon drying at room temperature. However, it does take about 30 minutes to become highly conductive, and about 12 hours to reach full conductivity.

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Why is your conductive ink better than others?

Our conductive ink is composed of silver particles, which have the highest known conductivity. The interactions between the silver particles have been tailored to create an ink with the desired flow properties for 3D printing. Many competing products are based on carbon particle-based inks, which are typically orders of magnitude lower in conductivity. Other competitors also may either require elevated processing temperatures, or do not retain their shape after deposition.

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Can I use the same conductive ink cartridge for multiple prints?

Yes. Each conductive ink cartridge holds enough ink to print a 60 meter trace. The conductive ink head will be automatically capped, whenever it is retracted, to prevent unwanted drying and nozzle clogging.

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Is the conductive ink toxic?

Our conductive ink has been formulated to be safe for use by adults. It contains silver microparticles that are not readily absorbed into the body in the same way that silver nanoparticles are. However, it contains small amounts of organic solvents similar to those found in household cleaners, so care should be taken to avoid direct skin contact, ingestion, or vapor inhalation prior to the ink curing.

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Is there a SDS available?

Yes. You can download the SDS, or find the printed versions stored inside your Voxel8 Developer's Kit Printer box.

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What new materials are being released?

We are developing a broad pipeline of functional and matrix materaisl that can be used in future versions of the Developer's Kit. The current, first generation Developer's Kit is intended to print conductive silver ink combined with thermoplastic.

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Will ABS, HIPS, or high temperature PLA work on the Voxel8 printer?

You can print any material that does not require a heated chamber (the Voxel8 Developer's Kit printer just has a protective acrylic cover). You'll need to elevate the extrusion heater to match your material specifications. The caveat is that if you increase the heat for other materials besides PLA filament, the silver extrusion may become unreliable. Silver pressure must also be returned.

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Can you print nylon filament on your machine?

Yes. However, we ship with PLA thermoplastic which works best with the silver conductive ink.

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Can you carbon fiber filament on your machine?

Our Developer's Kit printer is not designed to print carbon fiber at this time. It is not recommended.

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Does the printer require any curing or post-processing steps?

When printing single material thermoplastic, there are no curing steps required. However, when printing multi-material prints which involve both silver and thermoplastic, the ink starts curing after 5 minutes. There is a 15 minute dry time before it is recommended touching the prints. Depending on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity this value could increase or decrease. As a recommendation, we recommend leaving parts drying for an hour or more before manipulating them to significant degree. 

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How do I hook up "house air" to the printer and circumvent the built-in pneumatic pump on the Developer's Kit?

There are two ports on the back. The larger one is for house air input, and the smaller one is for delivering pressure to the Voxel8 silver cartridge for dispensing the conductive ink.

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I have run out of thermoplastic filament. Can I use something else? Where can I buy more?

We recommend that you source the thermoplastic filament that we sell via the Voxel8 store, since it produces the best adhesion results and has been tested on the Developer's Kit.

NOTE: If you choose to use another filament, you may experience print failures. We recommend you use the Voxel8 filament which has been vetted and tested for best print results. We cannot support you in print error resolutions when you use another vendor plastic due to how it may interact with the hardware and conductive silver ink.

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I have run out of conductive silver ink. Can I buy more from Voxel8?

You can purchase more conductive silver ink directly from the Voxel8 store.

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I have gotten silver conductive ink on my body. What should I do?

You can wash it off with soap and water if it is on your hands. You should visit the Working with Conductive Silver Ink article for more information on how to proceed for other cases. 

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Can I use other materials besides the thermoplastic PLA and silver that ships with the Voxel8 Developer's Kit?

You are free to experiment. However, Voxel8 will not support you when you apply 3rd party materials into the machine. You may damage it doing it, so it's best to stick with what we ship you. We do have plans to upgrade to other materials and when that happens we'll let you know. If you have feedback on materials you'd like to print, we'd love to hear from you.

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Can I print ABS on the machine?

Yes, but our machine ships with PLA. Use a trusted vendor that makes nice ABS filament, or check with us to see what we recommend first otherwise you may have print failures. 

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Do you have a downloadable TDS (Technical Data Sheet) for the Voxel8 silver conductive ink?

Yes. You can download it from here.

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