We've been telling you about experiments in 3D printed electronics since some of the earliest crude efforts, like the University of Warwick's conductive plastic composite we reported on in 2012. That material can be used with low-cost, hobbyist 3D filament fusion printers to make working, functional personal electronics devices, although they weren't much to look at.
The Voxel8 3D printer printed this fully functional quadcopter with embedded electronics using thermoplastics and highly conductive silver ink.
At CES this year, startup Voxel8 introduced what they're calling the world's first 3D electronics printer. The company and the printer are the brainchild of Harvard professor Jennifer A. Lewis, who heads the Lewis Lab. Lewis' team has been conducting R&D for the last decade on this technology, including process and materials such as lightweight composites, conductive inks for printed electronics, and embedded sensors in stretchable matrices. The team's research also resulted in lithium-ion micro-batteries, which Design News covered in 2013.
The Voxel8 has 3D-printed electromagnets, fully functional 3D electromechanical assemblies, and entire quadcopters. The team says its first-generation conductive inks are 5,000 times as conductive as the carbon-based inks that are currently used for 3D printing. The company is using Autodesk's new Project Wire 3D printing software.
Ann R. Thryft is senior technical editor, materials & assembly, for Design News. She's been writing about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for 25 years, covering manufacturing materials & processes, alternative energy, machine vision, and all kinds of communications.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
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