Beyond the trinkets: Voxel8 shows 3D electronics printer

Beyond the trinkets: Voxel8 shows 3D electronics printer

Beyond plastic angel paperweights and keychain elves, how complex can complex be in today's output from 3D printers? Voxel8 says they have the world's first multi-material 3D electronics printer, the nature of which can give the imagination a workout.

"Voxel8 3D printer can print a complete quadcopter, including the circuits," said Geek.com's headline about the company announcement. Matthew Humphries of Geek.com said the printer can create both the object and the circuitry required to power/control. The company showed the 3D printer at CES; the big deal is that designers and engineers can create three-dimensional parts with embedded circuitry. Voxel8 also announced a partnership with Autodesk to develop Project Wire for creating 3D electronic devices printed on Voxel8's platform. Project Wire is a software tool for designing 3D printable electronic devices, rapidly fabricated using the Voxel8 3D printer. This is a browser-based tool. Project Wire features a library of components, tools for 3D wiring, and integration for printing.

Voxel8 said that "Together with our software partner, Autodesk, we have developed new software for all stages of the 3D printing pipeline, from design through to machine control." The breakthrough is that Desktop 3D printers today are constrained to printing thermoplastics or UV resins. Now, with Voxel8's 3D printer, one can co-print matrix materials such as thermoplastics and highly conductive silver ink.

The desktop 3D electronics printer has dual material capabilities—combining a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printhead with a conductive silver ink printhead. The printer has a l4.3" color touch screen that provides printer status. For advanced users, not only can print parameters be monitored on the touch screen, but also can be dynamically updated mid-print.

This enables customized such as quadcopters, electromagnets and fully functional 3D electromechanical assemblies. Now, said the company, you can design the electronics to fit your part, rather than designing the part around the electronics. What is more, the company said their first generation inks were 5000x more conductive than conductive pastes and filaments currently used in 3D printing.

A rep at CES was on hand with a demo unit ,where they printed a quadcopter. The rep told Mike Senese, executive editor of Make, that they developed the from the ground up; the process involves use of traditional technology along with conductive paste extrusion of their conductive material. "So we co-print both the plastic and the conductive material layer by layer to build up our 3D circuit." (According to the company, they leveraged years of research from the Lewis Group at Harvard University to create highly conductive inks that can be printed at room temperature and integrated with an array of matrix materials.)

The Voxel8 Developer's Kit ($8,999) is available on pre-order. Full details about what are included are available on the website. A limited release of the Developer's Kit will be shipped in late 2015.


Explore further

Now with more materials and more colour, 2015 is the year to try 3D printing at home

More information:www.voxel8.co/

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Jan 13, 2015
An interesting article for fans of 3D circuitry embedded in electro-mechanical working models.
But it seems to have been written in a way which misleads gullible people to believe that the 3D printing included printing rare earth magnets and sintered bearings of the motors and the lightweight lithium batteries, which enable the 'copter technology to work.

Jan 13, 2015
any person ordering a kit on pre-order with their own money is a sucker or has too much money and should be paying someone to work for them.

Jan 14, 2015
So basically it's just a regular 3d printer with an extra print head that can lay down silver ink. All it can really do is embed silver ink wires in whatever it's making. For $9000. A bit overly proud of it in my opinion.

Jan 28, 2015
I wonder how much does the silver ink cardridge cost?

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