From smart prosthetics and human-machine interfaces, to lightweight satellite-mounted electronics and advanced RF devices, the domain of additively manufactured electronics (AME) is attracting attention across a range of industry sectors.
Additively Manufactured Electronics is the innovative technology that is paving the way for Industry 4.0 production techniques. AME removes many of the challenges of the intensive traditional Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) manufacturing, cutting down time and costs while allowing completely new designs and free-form structures.
The process involves 3D printing of circuit boards in layers by inkjet deposition of both metal and polymer materials simultaneously. Through this process, components can be embedded and printed within the boards. Instead of housing chips and other electrical components on a single layer of circuitry, multiple layers can be used in boards that can be highly complex. This provides manufacturers and researchers with the opportunity to change the shape of a range of equipment and devices, to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.
And the applications of the technology are endless:
- Miniaturized and compact PCBs
- 3D integrated antennas and radio frequency SiP
- Cell cultivation equipment and Microfluidics biocompatible devices
- Wearable sensors and medical devices
- Lightweight manufacturing part development
- Multi-sensor testing devices
….and the list goes on and on. Whether in the domains of defence and aerospace or in biomedical device development, manufacturing, mining or simply basic engineering research, the value proposition of AME is in miniaturisation and in reducing costs and time of production, through optimisation of materials and space used.
But to generate these innovations, an additively manufactured electronics 3D printer is needed.
Nano Dimension’s Dragonfly IV is a multi-material 3D printing system able to craft functional circuit boards and electronic devices within hours. The machine is already in use in companies such as L3Harris (aerospace engineering) and Piezokin (biomedical devices), as well as the US military and in university-based engineering research centres around the world.
In Australia, for instance, Nano Dimension is working with University of Technology Sydney, hosting the DragonFly IV 3D printer in their advanced additive manufacturing facility – UTS ProtoSpace, where it is used for cutting edge radio frequency research. They also plan to work with the UTS Motorsports Electric group within the university to help experiment around circuitry for improved navigation as well as ultralight part development.
Australian Country Manager, Omer Tangi, says that organisations across the nation are in a race to build products that will sustain their productivity. “There’s a clear investment priority right now, in experimentation and prototyping, particularly in aerospace and biomedical device sectors,” he said. “We are fortunate here in Australia to have some great minds imagining the future of technologies in these industries. But nothing beats taking a concept and making it real.”
UTS researcher, Dr Yang Yang agrees. “When a product specification is printed with AME technologies and is demonstrated to work, you have physical proof of what is possible,” he said. “This is wonderful for research, but it’s also incredibly powerful for product development.”
Nano Dimension is supporting the Modern Manufacturing Expo in Sydney, and will have the Dragonfly IV on display. Attendees to the expo will be encouraged to submit a design for printing on-site, and will be able to learn about other products in the Nano Dimension set.
To make an appointment with Country Manager, Omer Tangi, or with one of Nano Dimension’s AME experts, visit: www.nano-di.com/events/modern-manufacturing-expo or register for the Modern Manufacturing Expo here: modernmanufacturingexpo.com/register