Electronics 3D printing is an area of additive still in its infancy. Last month, 3D Printing Industry published an article about a team from the University of Texas at El Paso who demonstrated the potential to 3D print a volumetric circuit, including pre-made components, in virtually any design. Speaking with Simon Fried, CBO and co-founder of PCB 3D printing company Nano Dimension, I learn how the UTEP study relates to the technology inside the DragonFly 2020 and 2020 Pro 3D printers. As discussed in a previous interview with Fried, electronics 3D printing can be considered as a developing subcategory within the wider additive manufacturing sector. Though still in the prototyping area of applications, non-planar electronics, i.e. three-dimensional, occupying spaces unconventional to traditional electronics, is the area that 3D printing stands to have real impact. Contrasting Nano Dimension’s 3D printed PCBs, Fried explains, “What is interesting and novel in the UTEP case is the fully 3D outer shape of the part.” Here Fried refers to the jellybean-like shape of the UTEP design circuit, which also has a hole in the center. “This isn’t per-se an innovation as it is already an existing process in the Molded Interconnect Device industry,” says Fried, “But as an integrated step in 3D printing it is new.” However, this particular development of the UTEP study, Fried notes, is yet to be fully substantiated by the presentation of the team’s 3D printing system and physical parts it has produced, no doubt to be delivered in a published study in the near future.

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