Apr 22, 2018

When Innovation Leaps: 3D Printing of Fully Functional Electronics

Nano Dimension’s projections for the future of 3D printed electronics, was the subject of a recently published article in Manufacturing Technology Insights by Nano Dimension’s US President and Co-Founder, Simon Fried

3D printed object combining dielectric and conductive materials, replacing traditional MID processes

3D printed object combining dielectric and conductive materials, replacing traditional MID processes

Using additive manufacturing technologies, the world of printed electronics is seeing its first major overhaul in decades; mirroring the tectonic shifts that took place when the world moved from conventional film cameras to digital cameras — and when smart phones replaced basic cell phones. The days where electronic prototypes and parts are sent out for time-consuming, expensive machining are numbered, ushering in a new normal of 3D printing fully functional electronics, either in-house or by using service bureaus. What we are looking at is a cheaper, faster solution that opens doors to uncapped product innovation.

The importance of electronic digital manufacturing in laying the groundwork for industry 4.0 readiness, can’t be underestimated. Nano Dimension’s technology has already broken major technology barriers to enable onsite prototyping of functional electronics, from sensors, to antennae to multilayer PCB’s and embedded components, as well as small-batch digital production. And with the rapid jump from prototyping to production and small-batch digital manufacturing, we believe that in the not so far future, product designers will be able to take files from the Gerber-file stage to completed product, without ever leaving their offices.

 The fast-forwarding of additive electronic capabilities — largely made possible by our new ability to print polymers and metals together to create a functional part — means that it’s just a matter of time before electronics manufacturers will be able to print fully functional multi-material devices. It also opens up new ways for product designers to envision products and contemplate manufacturing intelligent 3D electronics and circuits that can’t be made any other way —re-imagining design sizes and shapes constrained by circuit manufacturing processes.

Opening the door to new ways to innovate electronic design and production, additive electronic manufacturing also slashes production costs and time to market, enabling full control of intellectual property and the development process. As the technology continues to advance, the only factor limiting new projects will be the size and depth of the print surface — making it not just a tool for faster, cost efficient prototyping, but for revolutionizing how manufacturing operates. We believe this will usher in a world where entire electronic products will be 3D printed, such as earphones or a hearing aid, complete with circuits fully embedded into the plastic and new unimagined IoT products or an electrical replacement part for a drone.

With production line efficiency and flexibility almost certainly requiring 3D printing for the end-product or as part of the machine fashioning the end part, this is a sharp reminder that industry players who don’t move towards industry 4.0 and the digital fabrication of electronics might just get left behind.

Come and visit us at Rapid + TCT 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas at Booth # 119 for an interactive experience with Nano Dimension’s award-winning DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D Printer.  

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