Three-D printer maker Nano Dimension Technologies Ltd. says it has successfully 3D printed electrical circuits in which it embedded electrical components, through placement, as an integral part of the printing process.
The company makes a 3D printer, called the DragonFly 2020, that prints conventional printed circuit boards using conductive ink and dielectric inks. The same printer was used to do the proof-of-concept inkjet printing in which electrical components were placed during the printing process.
Nano Dimension isn’t realeasing any details about the electrical components in the proof-of-concept demonstration. But the company says its new technique improves PCB reliability by maintaining the electronic components internally and preventing their exposure to the outside environment. The new printing technique also makes soldering obsolete, claims Nano Dimension, because the components are embedded within the printed board during printing. The connectivity between components then takes place as part of the 3D printing process without the need for a mediating soldering material. Additionally, the new process enables printing on electronics components without their complete packaging (printing directly on the dye), and consequently supports the creation of thinner, more protected PCBs.
In a related development, Nano Dimension says it is perfecting techniques for the 3D printing of advanced ceramic materials in inkjet technology. One reason for the pursuit of this goal is that ceramic material could serve as the dielectric on printed PCBs. This usage is potentially revolutionary, Nano Dimension says, because the insulation and mechanical strength properties of ceramics are orders of magnitude better than the properties of the materials currently used in the PCB industry.
The work on ceramics is partly funded by MEIMAD in Israel, a joint venture of that country’s Innovation Authority, Ministry of Finance and the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure of the Ministry of Defense. The goal of the program is to promote military, defense, and commercial R&D of dual-use technologies, which will contribute to national security, yet possess financial potential.