The Design, Fabrication, and Applications of 3D Printed Capacitors

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Amy Teresa Neidhard-Doll


Over the past decade, Additive Manufacturing (AM) has advanced as a novel manufacturing technique used to develop rapid prototypes for custom and complex geometries and multilayer devices in many different industries. Recent advances in emerging technologies such as dual-extrusion FDM 3D printing, along with newly introduced conductive polymer filament materials, have created the potential to use low-cost, readily available 3D printing methods to fabricate electronic devices on-the-fly in remote environments. This study explores the use of Protopasta conductive filament and various common thermoplastic filament materials (PLA, PP, PC) and an Ultimaker s5 Pro dual-extrusion FDM printer with high-resolution 0.25 mm diameter print nozzles to fabricate a fully-fused 50 mm x 50 mm plate capacitor. A maximum capacitance of 328 pF was measured with a 0.25 mm thick dielectric layer of extruded PLA. This demonstrates a 215% increase in capacitance when compared to measurements for a similar plate capacitor constructed with wrought sheet aluminum (104 pF) using the same dielectric material and thickness. An EVAL-AD5940 impedance analyzer was used to measure the capacitance with PLA, PP, and PC dielectric layers at 1 kHz, 5 kHz, 7.5 kHz, and 10 kHz. From these measurements, the dielectric constant of each material was calculated for a dielectric thickness of 1 mm, as follows: 1 kHz (PLA: 3.00, PP: 2.96, PC: 3.00); 5 kHz (PLA: 2.83, PP: 2.74, PC: 2.83); 7.5 kHz (PLA: 2.82, PP: 2.76, PC: 2.910; and 10 kHz (PLA: 2.39, PP: 2.63, PC: is 2.99).


Electrical Engineering, Engineering, 3D printing, capacitors, dielectric constant, FDM, dual-extrusion, 0.25 mm nozzle size

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Copyright 2021, author.