Electronics are being pitted as the next big stride in 3D printing, providing manufacturers with the ability to create real, functional products. Industrial developers are on their way to powering up 3D printed parts with companies such as Graphene 3D Lab printing with composite materials to create batteries and Optomec who have seen phenomenal growth in sales of their industrial additive manufacturing systems for 3D printing sensors and antenna.
On the small manufacturer and maker end of the scale, a team have taken to Kickstarter to champion the printing of electronics with a piece of hardware that can create a prototype board on a desktop style machine.
The Voltera V-One has been designed to prevent tinkerers from coming into contact with dangerous chemicals and relying on outsourcing which can take up to weeks to create circuit boards. Rather than claiming to be a replacement for mass manufactured PCBs, the machine is being described as a prototyping tool that will enable makers to test circuits more effectively from their own workspaces and in doing so, create with less waste.
Solder paste dispensing.
With just one button, the printer is a simplistic machine run on Voltera’s own step-by-step software. Printing with magnetic swappable print heads, the machine can create a prototype board that can help engineers and makers realise their ideas in just over a hour.
Voltera briefly explains the process: “Gerber files go in; FR4 boards come out. The magic happens in the middle ... the printer lays down a conductive ink to create the traces and an insulating ink as a mask between layers.”
The demand for this type of technology is clear in the incredible figure already raised in the project’s Kickstarter campaign. With another 17 days left to go, backers have already pledged a massive $386,000 – the goal was only $70,000.
Batch 1 backers are set to get their machines by September 2015 and there is still time to secure your order for the second batch with a pledge of $1499. Once units start to ship, customers will be able to order proprietary consumables such as replacement ink and substrates from the Voltera online store.
The campaign closes on March 12 2015, and by the looks of it is already set for unrivalled success.