Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 37

PCBs: A Disruptive Use of 3D Printing While Voxel8 is successfully embedding traditional PCBs into 3D-printed objects, startup Nano Dimension is printing the PCBs themselves. Simon Fried, co-founder and chief business officer, explains the motivation: "We were looking to establish a disruptive application, something unique, that would be at the forefront of new product design and technical innovation." They felt that the PCB industry was the right place to start. Prototyping PCB designs is typically an expensive, time-intensive process, which is becoming a more serious concern as product life cycles get shorter. The facilities that fabricate prototype boards are almost exclusively located in Asia, but the designers are more likely to be in North America. The iterative process of prototyping is tedious: Designers send a file to a prototype house, wait two weeks or so for the boards to be fabricated and shipped, and then repeat until the design is finalized. Bringing prototyping in-house would save weeks of time and protect valuable intellectual property, but the required equipment is expensive and bulky. Nano Dimension developed its DragonFly 2020 3D Printer (Figure 3) specifically to solve this problem, building prototypes within hours and vastly speeding up the process. The DragonFly printer codeposits two materials, a highly conductive silver nanoparticle ink and a functional dielectric ink, to build an entire PCB from the ground up. Nano Dimension designed its inks in-house to ensure they would work well together. A printed PCB prototype does not just need to look like the real thing, as might be the case for a mechanical part prototyped using 3D-printed plastic, but it needs to function like a real PCB. The company claims that its printed PCBs can. Nano Dimensions is currently working with beta customers and plans to start shipping printers near the end of 2016. One caveat: While these printed PCBs are multilayered structures, the "3D" aspect of Nano Dimension's products is minimal, as the PCBs are flexible and each layer is only a few microns thick. Building a Modular Cellphone Another startup is producing truly 3D electronic components as it moves toward its vision of tomorrow's consumer electronics being assembled from modular pieces. Nascent Objects is addressing e-waste by creating a platform where users can print a variety of modules - speakers, cameras, sensors, and more - and join them together to make a functioning device. Putting them together is supposedly as simple as inserting a SIM card into a cellphone, so it is easy to upgrade a device rather than discard it when improved components become available. Nascent Objects does not build printers. Its IP lies in its printing process and template-based software, which can be used with many different commercially available 3D printers that use SLA or inkjet printing. The modules consist of a plastic housing, which can FIGURE 3. The DragonFly 2020 3D Printer from Nano Dimension is designed to print PCB prototypes in a matter of hours, depositing two materials: a conductive silver nanoparticle ink and a functional dielectric ink. Image courtesy of Nano Dimension august/september 2016 37

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Screen Printing - August/September 2016

Contents
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - Cover1
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - Cover2
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 1
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - Contents
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 3
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 4
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 5
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 6
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 7
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 8
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Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - 35
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Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - Cover3
Screen Printing - August/September 2016 - Cover4
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