Voxel8 – A 3D Printer For Embedded Electronics
A 3D printer called Voxel8, demonstrated at CES 2015, printed the plastic body and metal circuitry of a quadcopter drone, all at once, with the wires actually printed inside the plastic, Fast Company reports in an article titled “The 9 Best Ideas From CES 2015.” The Voxel8 quadcopter reliably powers four motors from 3D printed wires embedded in the quadcopter arms.
The Voxel8 team teamed with Autodesk to create Project Wire, a design tool that provides electronics and 3D printing enthusiasts with the ability to place components, route 3D wires, and output multi-material print data for fabrication. The Autodesk website states:
We have partnered with Voxel8 to enable the fabrication of truly freeform three-dimensional circuits for the first time. We believe future electronic devices will be printed rather than assembled. Fabricated layer-by-layer as a single object, rather than assembled from separate parts. Although 3D printing is often associated with throw-away plastic ‘trinkets’, together with Voxel8 we are looking to make functional printed devices a reality. Today we are starting with electronics by enabling the design of 3D wires embedded in printed models.
3D-Printed Customized Electronic Devices
Desktop 3D printers today are constrained to printing thermoplastics or UV resins. But using Voxel8’s 3D printer, you can rapidly design novel devices with embedded 3D Circuitry, such as 3D printed antennas. Voxel8’s technology permits co-printing matrix materials, such as thermoplastics and highly conductive silver inks, enabling customized electronic devices like quadcopters, electromagnets and fully functional 3D electromechanical assemblies.
Functional materials are at the heart of Voxel8’s core technology, which leverages over a decade of research from the Lewis Group at Harvard University to create highly conductive inks that can be printed at room temperature and seamlessly integrated with a broad array of matrix materials.
The first Voxel8 3D printers will start shipping in late 2015.
Images from Voxel8 and Autodesk.