Active Device Fabrication Using Fiber Encapsulation Additive Manufacturing

Saari, M.
Galla, M.
Cox, B.
Richer, E.
Krueger, P.
Cohen, A.
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University of Texas at Austin

Fiber Encapsulation Additive Manufacturing (FEAM) is a novel solid freeform fabrication process in which a fiber and a matrix are co-deposited simultaneously within a single printer along straight and curved 2-D and 3-D paths. Using a FEAM approach in which the fiber is a metal wire and the matrix is a thermoplastic polymer, simple electromechanical devices such as voice coils, inductive sensors, and membrane switches have been successfully produced. This paper will present an overview of the FEAM process, describe several fabricated devices, and discuss recent developments in controllably stopping and starting the wire, and in creating electrical junctions between individual wires, which together enable much more complex devices to be made.