Long ago, way back in the 1980's, there was a product called "stitchwire", which used a CNC plotter style system to glue down a wire connecting pads on a circuit board. The big benefit was that conductors could cross, since the wire was insulated. The wire would be welded to pads to make the connections, and the whole process moved quite rapidly. The real beauty was that it only needed a netlist and a parts layout, which are similar requirements as printed circuit boards. I don't know what became of it, although I suspect that with the development of good autorouters it became a lot less popular. And possibly the high speed data development curtailed it's use.
This does sound like a great idea and a very useful product. But a few details would be very useful as well. Resistance of the traces and glue connections, as well as the variation in resistances, would be quite valuable, since that would determine the suitability for many applications. It should also be possible, if the resistance is quite repeatable, to use it as part of a circuit, thus reducing component count.
Minimum trace width would be another handy spec to get as well.
So how about a few more details about this great product?
My name is Carlos and I work at BotFactory. I wanted to thank Design News for mentioning us. The support from the community keeps us going.
Regading the comments, I would like to add a couple of things. First, we're working on creating multi-layer boards using additive technologies. This means we would print one layer of conductive ink, then a layer of insulating ink making sure we leave space for vias, then we fill the vias with glue and then we move to the next layer. We're making good progress with this and we hope to have news about it soon.
Second, We're realizing that you can't compare the boards "Squink" produce to a manufactured board, in the same way you can't compare a 3D printed part to a part made using injection molding (specially if youur design needs supports), but the fact that we can crank boards so fast is really amazing and will enable people to do electronics, even when they never thought they would.
I think that having the Personal Electronic Circuit Board Factory is a very good solution especially for the simple boards. It is also a very good development tool that can be applied in many engineering fields, including rapidly mocking up prototype boards so as to test out the numerous design iterations. The fact that there are many multilayer boards therefore means that the operator should come up with a system that places some subsequent layers so as to come up with a multilayer board.
Students and hobbyists will definitely have a lot more resources, but unless the schools are able to teach insight and experience I doubt that any will zoom past us. Understanding inductive and capacitive coupling, and transmission line effects, as well as impedances and voltage drops, may possiblyy be taught, but not so much as to produce experts.
But the ability to print conductive circuits without first producing a silk-screen is a great benefit. Screen printed circuits are not new, I have seen old circuit boards with both printed conductors and printed resistors, probably made back in the sixties.
The company says it anticipates high-definition video for home security and other uses will be the next mature technology integrated into the IoT domain, hence the introduction of its MatrixCam devkit.
Siemens and Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering to address limitations in the current additive manufacturing design-to-production chain in an applied research project as part of the federally backed America Makes program.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
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