Just Ask Happy: The Future of 3D Printing


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We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Q: What is your opinion on the 3D printers that can utilize both conductive and non-conductive inks? Is this the future of PCBs?

A: These 3D printers are evolving rapidly. A must is that the printer has the ability to use a number of different inks for the different components of a PCB, including the curing of the inks. At a minimum, that is:

  1. Insulating substrate
  2. Low-ohmic conductive ink
  3. Non-conductive insulating crossover

As the equipment improves, solder masks, resistive/capacitive and solder paste inks, and even semiconductor inks would be nice. Currently, this is a quick-turn application for a few breadboards.

Whether this technology moves into being a source of operational electronics with sufficient reliability will depend on the innovations in creating future inks. Conventional PCB production continues to innovate to reduce their turnaround times and costs, forcing 3D printing to work that much harder on their solutions.

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