Desktop 3D printer presages the way forward for multi-layer circuit board design

An Israel-based supplier of 3D printing applied sciences and nano-inks is now delivery a desktop machine to beta clients that may produce multi-layer circuit boards.

Nano Dimension’s Dragonfly 2020 is a desktop 3D printer that may produce circuit board prototypes and small manufacturing runs, doubtlessly decreasing improvement time from weeks to hours, in line with Amit Dror, co-founder and CEO of the startup.

The Dragonfly 2020 makes use of an inkjet-like materials deposition methodology adopted by a heat-based curing system to create the printed circuit boards (PCBs), and it has no restrict to the variety of layers past the mechanical peak of the printer’s z axis.

The printer works by first depositing a dialectic insulating materials and a silver-based nano-ink for circuitry on high of it.

Not one of the nano-inks extruded by the 3D printer begin at room temperature; earlier than they’re desposited on the print platform, they undergo course of referred to as curing and sintering, which bakes the supplies to eliminate solvents, then they’re melted additional earlier than being extruded, Dror stated.

Nano Dimension Dragonfly 2020 3D printer A printed circuit board being faraway from the Dragonfly 2020 3D printer.

A printed circuit board being faraway from the Dragonfly 2020 3D printer.

“The nano silver particles get melted at very low temperatures — one thing like 100 and 200 levels Celsius,” he stated. “As soon as they’re sintered, the nano-ink turns into stable silver. It will not soften once more till the temperature hits 900 Celsius.”

“Actually, to our greatest data, we’re solely firm that may print two varieties of supplies — dialectic and conductive — that may stand up to excessive temperatures with excessive decision,” Dror added.

The Nano Dimension Dragonfly 2020 can print conductive traces which can be about 100 microns in width; the machine makes a number of passes to create the width required for one line.

When commercially obtainable, the 3D printer could have price round $200,000, Dror stated.

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The Dragonfly 2020 extruding melted silver-based nano ink.

Nano Dimension, based in 2012, first unveiled the Dragonfly 2020 on the SolidWorks World convention in January 2016. That very same 12 months, Nano Dimension was added to Gartner’s “Cool Vendors in 3D Printing” report. In that report, Gartner said the corporate’s printed circuit boards (PCBs) know-how “doubtlessly permits scalable manufacturing of customized merchandise. This places Nano Dimension’s PCB printer on the convergence , mechanical and software program design and manufacturing.”

Gartner added that the PCBs may “have distinctive signatures that make counterfeiting of the merchandise with a customized 3D-printed PCB troublesome if not inconceivable.”

nano dimension 3D printer Nano Dimension

A closeup of one of many versatile circuit boards printed by the Dragonfly 2020.

Nano Dimension, Dror stated, is now working with 10 beta clients, together with U.S. banks, a healthcare firm, a protection contractor and electronics organizations. Dror was unable to call many of the firms because of confidentiality agreements.

The International Printed Circuit Board (PCB) market, which was value $63.5 billion in 2016, is expected to reach about $73.8 billion by 2021, rising at a compound annual development charge three.1% over that point, in line with BCC Analysis.

Sometimes, PCBs manufacturing is outsourced to 3rd events in Asia. Printing prototypes in-house not solely protects an organization’s mental property, but it surely additionally permits builders to check concepts that may in any other case be too costly, Dror stated.

“It will probably take weeks to get again a prototype. Having the ability to create and alter a design and get it up for testing inside a couple of hours as an alternative of few weeks is the benefit we provide our customers,” Dror stated.

Nano Dimension shouldn’t be the primary firm to supply a 3D printer for circuit boards.

In 2015, Voltera ran a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund its desktop circuit board 3D printer.

The Voltera V-One 3D printer, which dispenses conducting and insulating ink to create circuit-completed boards for prototyping, garnered practically 5 instances its $70,000 crowdsourcing aim. Subsequent month, the corporate plans to start delivery its 3D printers, which retail for $2,199.

Additionally in 2015, Harvard researchers introduced the creation of a 3D printer that could extrude each thermoplastics and extremely conductive silver inks that permit digital merchandise to be created on one course of.

The printer, sold by Voxel8, had a base worth of $eight,999 and noticed a restricted manufacturing run; it’s now not obtainable and the corporate is presently creating new, “extra succesful” platform, it stated.

Terry Wohlers, president of 3D printing trade analysis agency Wohlers Associates, stated  he has not not too long ago analyzed Nano Dimension’s competitors, however famous there aren’t many rivals and the corporate “gives one thing fascinating and particular” restricted to prototypes and small manufacturing runs.

Within the distant future, Wohlers believes, industrial 3D printers will produce circuits and different electronics that conform to the form of a tool, in addition to the plastic enclosure itself. At this time, merchandise are designed to accommodate typical printed circuit boards.

Nano Dimension 3D printer Nano Dimension

A circuit board printed to suit a mobile phone’s kind.

“Over time, the marketplace for 3D-printed circuit boards may change into giant, however many issues first must be solved,” Wohlers stated. “One in every of them is the printing of a number of supplies, one other is velocity, and a 3rd is price, particularly for manufacturing portions.”