Fabricating 3D printed electronics using desktop printers has become more accessible with recent developments in conductive thermoplastic filaments. Because of their high resistance and difficulties in printing traces in vertical directions, most applications are restricted to capacitive sensing. In this paper, we introduce Thermoformed Circuit Board (TCB), a novel approach that employs the thermoformability of the 3D printed plastics to construct various double-sided, rigid and highly conductive freeform circuit boards that can withstand high current applications through copper electroplating. To illustrate the capability of the TCB, we showcase a range of examples with various shapes, electrical characteristics and interaction mechanisms. We also demonstrate a new design tool extension to an existing CAD environment that allows users to parametrically draw the substrate and conductive trace, and export 3D printable files. TCB is an inexpensive and highly accessible fabrication technique intended to broaden HCI researcher participation.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)