Open any magazine and it’s clear that applications for 3D printing are exploding. Yet one area that remains largely unexplored is the use of additive manufacturing for electronics. The convergence of electronics and 3D printing will have staggering implications for the electronics industry—particularly around printed circuit boards and rapid prototyping.
Not surprisingly, the 3D printed electronics space is in its infancy, more or less at the same level of adoption as regular 3D prototyping was in 2009. But its slow adoption is not from a lack of interest or need; rather, it’s because creating 3D printers for PCBs is exceedingly complex and existing inks and printers just weren’t up to the challenge. These printers must be able to print conductive traces, which is the domain of printed electronics and produce components that meet the demanding performance requirements of aerospace, defense, consumer electronics, Internet of Things and even wearables.