One of the advancements within the 3D Printing space, which could really expand on the applicable uses of the technology, is the 3D printing of circuits and wiring. Such technology, once perfected, would enable manufacturers and hobbyists alike to 3D print electronics in a single sitting. Imagine a remote control call in which the wiring and circuitry are all printed into the device, without the need for assembly. This could one day, in the not too distant future, be a real possibility.
One man named Bas de Bruijn is trying to make this vision a reality, sooner rather than later. He has produced a machine, which he calls an ‘Additive Wire-Laying Machine’. What it does is lay down thin copper wire, just prior to an extruder placing melted plastic filament on top of it. In doing so, it creates an insulated copper wiring in practically any shape desired, and would be ideal for any of the following possible applications, once perfected, according to Bas de Bruijn.
- Printed circuit boards
- Flexible printed circuit boards (FPC’s)
- Use with dissolvable PVA as an intermediate to bring wire/chips into tissue
To make sure the wire is placed in the correct location prior to being covered with melted plastic, Bas used a stepper motor which he connected to a 5th axis on the control board of the machine. The motor was used to turn a slew-ring which rotated in the direction of the movement, placing the wire down in the path of the extruder.
The technology still needs to be perfected, as there is currently nothing on Bas’s machine which can cut the copper wire when it’s done printing. Also there is no way to connect the copper wires to specific components, or fine-tune the setup. Bas believes however, that all these issues will be resolved over time. He has released the instructions for his design on Github for anyone to download, under the CERN Open Hardware License Version 1.2. What do you guys think of this device? Let us know at the ‘Additive Wire-Laying’ forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below provided by Bas de Bruijn, showing his wire laying machine in action.
(Source: BasdeBruijn.com, Hackaday.com)