Friday, September 22, 2017
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3D Electronics Printer Poised to Revolutionize Robotics

Voxel8's 3D Electronics Printer uses highly conductive silver ink and plastics to create circuits that are truly built into the product. (Photo courtesy of Voxel8.)
Voxel8’s 3D Electronics Printer uses highly conductive silver ink and plastics to create circuits that are truly built into the product. (Photo courtesy of Voxel8.)

Voxel8 is poised to revolutionize robotics, by printing far more than thermoplastics or UV resins. The unique machine can also print silver ink that is 5000 times more conductive than the conductive pastes and filaments that are commonly used in 3D printing today.

The printer has a pneumatic dispensing system for precision printing. It also features an all-important, kinematically coupled bed that can be removed during printing to insert a component, such as a microcontroller. When the bed is returned to the printer, it picks up where it left off, aware that the component has been inserted.

This has significant ramifications for robotics, as it means that PCBs no longer have to printed on a single, flat plane. Components and electrical connections can be built into the printed plastic, so that the entire robot doesn’t have to be designed around the size and shape of a flat board.

Voxel8 has partnered with Autodesk to create software especially for this new manufacturing process. The software, called Project Wire was designed to make it easy for those familiar with traditional CAD design to create new products using the Voxel8.

The $8,999 printer can be pre-ordered online and are slated to ship toward the end of 2015.

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