What substrates can be used and which are the best

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Forester, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Paper and fabric are mentionned in the publicity blurb for the Argentum, these are absorbant but not very robust.

    What else can you print on?
    (and how good are they? What is best?)
    Eg Polyester - old overhead transparencies
  2. Michael Reed

    Michael Reed Staff Member

    Hey Forester, the most exhaustive list of information we have on the topic is at:


    In direct response to each material:

    Polyester OHTs - The problem we've had with materials like these is that the surface has to be roughened up to alter the contact angle of the liquid droplets. Smooth surfaces will cause pooling (with the current way we eject liquids and our current ink formulations). If you were to sandpaper, sand-blast or otherwise roughen the surface, it can be printed onto quite well. The problem thereafter being that Polyester is a thermal plastic and has a low chain breakdown temperature (ie. it burns) - this means you can't solder to it pretty much at all. For these reasons, it would be viable if you wanted to use z-axis conductive tape or conductive epoxy but otherwise Polyimide is worth the extra cost.

    Ceramics - Same problem with smoothness but once you deal with that as above it should be suitable. We've recently done some tests onto glass which should yield similar results. One downside we found was that soldering with a heat gun caused too large temperature gradients and cracked the material, heating evenly on a hot plate however worked quite well.

    FR4 - see the wiki

    Polyimide - see the wiki

    LCP - No idea on this one, I assume you're specifically referring to Kevlar and such. We'll have to put it on the list of what to test!

    Wood - We have done some printing onto MDF, Plywood and Balsa. Though this was a very long time ago and honestly I'll have to go into our records in a bit to remember the results. From the top of my head, the achievable resolution was quite good on MDF but there was some amount of bleeding with the grain of the wood on Plywood and Balsa (also Balsa was far too prone to catching fire). I can't remember how well conductive the traces were but now that I think on it, those tests were done well before some other advancements were made in ink design and post processing stuff. We'll probably do some retests on that very soon... thanks! haha.

    Admittedly we're pretty pressed for time and haven't had much of a chance to experiment on a lot of the materials we want to. But please feel free to put forward suggestions and if you get the time, take a read through those wiki articles to familiarise yourself with what parameters are needed for good prints.

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