3D Printing Fully Operational Electronic Parts

University of Nottingham Has Successfully 3D Printed Fully Operational 3D Electronic Parts

Until now, the seemingly mythical goal of 3D printing folly operational electronic parts appeared to be a distant goal.  Researchers in the University of Nottingham, however, have done it, and they’ve done it using inkjet printing.  Here is an excerpt of the reseach from 3DPrinting.com:

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Printing fully operational parts is one of the most coveted goals in modern additive manufacturing. This is especially true of electronics. While researchers have posited many versions of such a model, it appears a team from University of Nottingham may have made a crucial breakthrough. The researchers have proposed a method of building function electronic circuits using inkjet printing. This exciting new development has the potential for electronics producers to make ready to use components directly.

Their method essentially uses 3D printing to make 2D printed electronics. The circuits are printed with very rapidly using conductive inks and insulating polymer inks. Aside from the clear importance to functional electronics printing, the use of multiple materials also makes this research a leap forward in multi-functional additive manufacturing, a type of printing that involves multiple materials at once……

Multi-material Inkjet Printing

…..The researchers managed to speed up the solidification process of the conductive inks to less than a minute per layer. Being an inkjet process, this method processes layers using UV technology. Dr Ehab Saleh and members of the team from CfAM found that silver nanoparticles in conductive inks are capable of absorbing UV light efficiently. The absorbed UV energy is converted into heat, which evaporates the solvents of the conductive ink and fuses the silver nanoparticles. This process affects only the conductive ink and thus, does not damage any adjacent printed polymers. The researchers used the same compact, low cost LED-based UV light to convert polymeric inks into solids in the same printing process to form multi-material 3D structures.

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