Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the unique ability to absorb microwave radiation and efficiently transfer the energy into substantial heat. When adequately dispersed in a thermoset polymer, such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the nanocomposite can be fully cured in seconds in a microwave oven rather than in hours in a convection oven. In this paper, cylindrical PDMS nanocomposites containing well-dispersed CNTs are fabricated by either microwave-curing or conventional thermal-curing. The mechanical, electrical, and piezoresistive properties of the fabricated samples are compared to understand the effects of different curing methods. Microwave-cured nanocomposites exhibit a significantly reduced compressive modulus for different CNT loadings. In addition, the electrical conductivity of microwave-cured nanocomposites is significantly enhanced over the thermally-cured counterparts. Experimental results demonstrate that the one-step microwave-curing procedure can improve the electrical conductivity of 1 wt% nanocomposites by almost 150 % over thermal-curing. However, their piezoresistive sensitivity remains remarkably similar, showing the potential for microwave-curing to replace thermal-curing for the manufacturing of highly flexible CNT-based nanocomposites.

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