Electronics manufacturing is a very labor-intensive process, employing a combination of robotic and chemical processes and treatments, manual labor but above all – it is a very dislocated process.
Over the course of past 15 years, we managed to witness the manufacturing changed in its scale, employing tens of millions of people and massively reducing time to market. Still, the process takes a lot of time, and not all can be done as efficiently as possible.
There are two base components of any piece of electronic equipment on the market: chip and PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and revolution is coming to both: IBM / GlobalFoundries is working on bringing flexible wafers from the domain of concept to a mass produced parts (still, we’re 5-6 years out), while Voxel8 just launched a 3D printer that can print PCBs.
Both innovations come from the East Coast: IBM/GlobalFoundries and the University of Albany, while Voxel8 is a hardware startup founded by Dr. Jennifer Lewis, Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
During CES 2015, the company introduced its first publicly available multi-material printer that among others, can lay the conductive silver ink. Yes, a 3D printed multi-layer PCB is becoming a reality. Do not expect your next graphics card or mobile phone to be 3D printed, as precision needed is on the very leading edge (some might say over the leading edge) of what industry can make.
However, this $8,999 3D printer should enable numerous 3D printed products from the world of Internet of Things (Machine-2-Machine, embedded electronics or IoT in marketing speak).
You can see more about the product in a video below: