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3D printing, printed electronics merged

Posted: 26 Mar 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D printing  printed electronics  UAV 

Stratasys and Optomec have completed a joint project to merge 3D printing and printed electronics to create a fully printed hybrid structure. "Bringing together 3D printing and printed electronic circuitry will be a game changer for design and manufacturing," said Jeff DeGrange, vice president, direct digital manufacturing, Stratasys.

The first project—the development of a "smart wing" for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) model with functional electronics—has the potential to change product development in industries including medical device, consumer electronics, automotive and aerospace, said the companies.

An Optomec Aerosol Jet system was used to print a conformal sensor, antenna and circuitry directly onto the wing of a UAV model. The wing was 3D printed with the Stratasys Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) process. The electrical and sensor designs were provided by Aurora Flight Sciences, a supplier of UAVs.

"The combination of FDM 3D printing and printed electronics technologies can provide benefits over traditional prototyping, manufacturing and field repair processes. Performance and functionality of products can be improved in two ways: 3D printers enable lighter weight mechanical structures; and conformal electronics printed directly onto the structure frees up space for additional payload. In turn, the process has a positive impact on the environment by using fewer materials."

"Manufacturers can implement this hybrid technology in a multitude of applications, not just in aerospace," said Optomec's Ken Vartanian. "This technology can benefit numerous industries by allowing thinner, lighter, fully functional structures that cost less to manufacture."

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