Amit Dror, CEO and Co-Founder of Nano Dimension, took the stage at the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo last week, to lift the curtain on 3D printed electronics and discuss how it is influencing Industry 4.0. In just five years, 3D Printing Conference in Kintex (Seoul), South Korea, is one of the leading exhibitions for Additive Manufacturing.
In his speech, Dror acknowledged that consumers are growing to expect everything quickly, on demand, and – increasingly -- customized. They want smart products and those that provide options, such as the ability to select colors, sizes and any number of additional variables.
Dror believes this is all part of the shift to Industry 4.0, supporting faster manufacturing and increased customization options through digital production.
Here are a few excerpts from the speech:
“Among the keys to Industry 4.0 are greater and more environmentally conscious manufacturing capabilities closer to the customer. Additive manufacturing plays a
significant role here as it allows for customization, reduces waste by printing only what is needed, and allows manufacturers to print where (or closer to it) and when items are needed, typically reducing shipping costs and time to market.”
“These emerging new customer demands pose a variety of challenges for manufacturers and designers, but few that can’t be overcome with time and technology. Rather than mass production – for which many factories are configured today – the shift toward more flexible manufacturing facilities eventually will become the norm. Additive manufacturing is a natural fit: with 3D printing solutions, a designer or manufacturer needs only change a design file digitally to customize or improve products on the fly. Need a part for a commercial airliner that is unexpectedly grounded for a minor repair? Print it on site.”
Additive Electronic Capabilities: A Game Changer to the 3D Manufacturing Process
One of the barriers to widespread adoption of Industry 4.0, however, is in printed electronics. While built-in intelligence is a critical aspect of Industry 4.0, until now there have been few options for using additive manufacturing to print the “intelligent” elements that are essential for our increasingly connected world.
Industry 4.0 will shine is when we can build in that intelligence as part of the 3D manufacturing process. Our world is flooded with data, much of which resides in the cloud, and it is directly impacting physical manufacturing. Today, for instance, a pair of sneakers might contain sensors that log steps and an antenna that sends the data to a fitness app or detect pressure points on the foot, so the user can have custom footwear that works best for her foot shape. But solutions like these cannot be built with today’s 3D printers. And it’s the multiple touch points and manufacturing steps that thwart the Industry 4.0 dream.
Technology and Innovation for the Future
The future is closing in, however, and Nano Dimension is playing an important role in the move toward building in electronic elements into other products. Our vision – and our actual DragonFly Pro 2020 3D Printer – takes raw materials including specialty conductive and dielectric (polymer with ceramic elements) and creates functioning printed electronics. The day is not far away when printers can print both the circuit boards, sensors or other electronics and whatever goes around it – such as hearing aids or headphones or smart speakers – in one print job.
Technologies like these will allow designers to rethink the existing boundaries of design. When they are not constrained by the traditional shapes of electronics – such as a flat, layered circuit board – and when they can fully embed the electronic elements within a finished product, the entire notion of how we create products, how much room they require, and what the end product looks like will evolve. It’s the perfect set-up for on-demand customization.
And that’s going to make for some very interesting years to come.
HDC demonstrated Nano Dimension’s DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D Printer it its impressive booth with exciting graphics and messaging.