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The first edition of Botacon took place last weekend in Brooklyn. The lineup of speakers was impressive and made for one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. But one materials-related presentation stood out. Mr. Kim and John Sarik gave a talk titled “MakerBot Printable Transistors and OLEDs or I want to be Jeri Ellsworth when I grow up.” In it the Columbia Laboratory for Unconventional Electronics researchers described using a wood RepRap Mendel, equipped with a MakerBot Unicorn style pen plotter and a micron pen, to print semiconductors!
Today it’s possible to print organic field transistors (OFETs), organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), and other devices using sophisticated laboratory equipment. But why should academics have all the fun? The goal of this project is to design a fabrication process that allows MakerBot owners to print their own electronics using (ideally) inexpensive and easy-to-source materials. In the first phase of the project we are using a RepRap, plotter pens, and research grade materials to create devices. The second phase of the project will focus on exploring new device materials. This is an ongoing project and we are looking for collaborators.
Mr. Kim and Sarik experimented with a variety of conductive materials (silver ink, P3HT, CP1 resin), which they inserted into rapidograph and pigma micron pens. According to the researchers, this is a nine step process:
The project doesn’t yet have a website but, in the DIY spirit of this research, Mr. Kim uploaded the field effect transistor patterns to Thingiverse and made the talk’s slides publicly available at mrkimrobotics.com.
All photos provided by John Sarik and Mr. Kim. John: thank you so much for discussing this fascinating research with me and for sending us the presentation materials.