Way back in 2014, Israeli 3D printer and 3D printed electronics manufacturer Nano Dimension received a $500,000 grant to develop a desktop 3D printer to make printed circuit boards (PCBs). The rest, as they say, is history: the DragonFly 2020 3D printer was unveiled soon after at the Printed Electronics USA 2015 show. The cutting-edge 3D printer was introduced to a larger audience at SOLIDWORKS World 2016, and the software package for the DragonFly 2020, Switch, was announced just a few months later. The company told its investors that they planned to deliver six of the desktop 3D electronics printers to beta customers in 2016, and made good on that promise when they completed the final delivery, to a Fortune 500 company, right before Christmas.
3DPrint.com had a chance to see the DragonFly 2020 in action at formnext 2016, and then again at CES earlier this month. We will be speaking with them in person again soon, at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 next week in Los Angeles. It’s a good thing too, because the company isn’t slowing down yet: in the second half of 2017, Nano Dimension is planning a full release to market of the first-generation DragonFly 3D printer. A few months ago, the company announced that it had successfully 3D printed conductive properties into pre-treated fabric, using the DragonFly 2020 and their AgCite Siler Nanoparticle conductive ink. Today, Nano Dimension is making another big announcement: it has successfully 3D printed PCBs that contain embedded electrical components.
Nano Dimension’s 3D printed electrical circuits can now contain embedded electrical components, through placement, as a part of the printing process. The 3D printing of PCBs with conductive ink and dielectric ink is possible thanks to the DragonFly 2020. The company introduced its successful proof of concept of PCB inkjet printing, and there are several advantages to this method. First, the reliability of the PCB is improved, because the electronic components can be maintained internally. This keeps them from being exposed to potentially dangerous external environments, and protects the PCBs from damages related to temperature, corrosion, and mechanics.In addition to keeping the PCBs protected, because the electrical components are actually embedded with the printed board while it’s being 3D printed, the prior, necessary soldering process is now obsolete. The connectivity between these components now takes place as part of the actual 3D printed process, so a mediating soldering material once it’s done being printed is no longer a necessary part of the process.
Finally, this new process allows for printing on electronics components “without their complete packaging (printing directly on the dye).” This in turn supports thinner, more fully protected PCBs being created. While this new capability to 3D print PCBs that already contain embedded electrical components will be available and supported in future versions of the DragonFly 2020, it has not yet been added to the current iteration of the printer.
Nano Dimension has already filed a patent application for this new 3D printing development with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The company believes that this new capability will be an important development for many industry sectors, including aerospace, consumer products, defense, and more.
Next week at SOLIDWORKS World 2017, featured presenter Nano Dimension, and its partner FATHOM will be exhibiting together in Booth 118 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The DragonFly 2020 3D printer will be there too, along with several functioning circuits printed by the DragonFly, including antennae and molded interconnect devices (MIDs). 3DPrint.com will be on the scene, bringing you all the latest in 3D printing news. Discuss in the Nano Dimension forum at 3DPB.com.