3D printing of electronics using an example of a drone: wires and boards are no longer needed
A snapshot of a drone printed on a 3D printer.
3D printing of electronics with conductive circuits inside - you no longer need wires and boards; the printer will stop exactly at the moment when you need to place the processor, transistor or battery, and then continue printing.
Article by Michael Sitvera with Medium.com translated for you the Top 3D Shop .
“You can't print your iPhone (yet),” as I wrote in my e-book on 3D printing just six months ago. This statement was part of a section entirely devoted to what 3D printers cannot do.
This section is becoming obsolete every day, which has become especially clear recently when Voxel8 ( pronounced “voxelate”, “voxel” is a three-dimensional pixel. Editor’s note ), founded and managed by several professors at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, introduced a development kit for 3D printer electronic devices.
With this kit, engineers and designers will be able to print drones, telephones and cars with remote control as a whole, with all the built-in electronics. The printer has a modular structure for printing both electronic circuits and plastic parts. One printhead extrudes PLA plastic to create the bulk of the object, while the other prints electronic circuits using very high conductivity inks. As the printing process progresses, the printer automatically stops (thanks to Autodesk’s smart program) so that the designer can insert electrical components, such as motors and resistors, into the product. After this is done, the printer will automatically continue printing from the moment where it was interrupted.
In the future, Voxel8 plans to improve the printer by developing new “inks” that can print resistors, sensors, and even lithium-ion batteries. It will also make the printing process much more efficient, because designers do not have to wait for the printer to stop placing components.
Why is this so important?
The Voxel8 pilot printer is beautiful, but most likely in the near future you will not add it to your home interior . The cost of the first edition of the developer kit is $ 8,999, excluding shipping and taxes.
( Information at the time of the original publication. Now the printer can be bought with delivery anywhere in the world. In Russia, it costs about 1 million rubles. Editor’s note. )
Despite the fact that you may not become the owner of this printer in the near future, you should definitely pay attention to it. The 3D printer industry has recently stagnated because the market has become so competitive that the few users who can afford to buy them cannot choose from a respectable number of small companies. Why is this device important?
This printer is important because it is part of the future.Ultimately, the price of PCB printers will drop. It is possible that soon we will see the printing of budget smartphones on order, right in electronics stores, and it will become an alternative to ordering nouveau devices from third world countries. I expect that over a decade, users will be able to choose the shape and color for their phones to their taste.
In the longer term , after 15-20 years, the printing of electronic circuits will make 3D printers more attractive for home use.
Due to its limited capabilities, modern 3D printers simply do not justify themselves for most ordinary people. Having the opportunity to print electronics, they will become much more useful. Lost your TV remote? Type a new one. Did the smartphone charger break down? Type a new one. Is your child bored? Buy a toy model online and print it, quadrocopter for example. No problem.
This is your future.
With the addition of printing electronic circuits and printing from different materials, as well as lowering the price and, hopefully, the noise level, I expect that 3D printers will one day have a special place in every home and will play a more important role than such things. like a phone, fridge or dishwasher.
What prospects for 3D-printing electronics do you consider the most realistic for the coming years? How could it be used? What can be printed on such a device in five years, and what will it take three to four times more time? Share your opinion in the comments.