An unknown start-up – Voxel8 was on the tapis of editors and commentators at CES in Las Vegas in January 2015. It presented an innovative 3D printer printing from thermoplastics (PLA) and special ink, consisting on nanoparticles of silver, which conducts electricity. Thanks to that it possible to create complete electric devices during one process. After 18 months, 3D printers are already available to purchase and one of the first receivers is ATAP – Google Advanced Technology and Projects.
Technology Voxel8 was worked out by a team of scientists and co-workers of the Harvard University, managed by Jennifer Lewis. Its heart are two extruders – the first is a standard one – it puts layers of traditional filament used in FDM technology – PLA, the second one is something like a pneumatic pump, which extrudes a special mixture of silver, which can print a structure with conductive traces.
Thanks to Autodesk’s software tool- Project Wire, a user can circuitry and design specific components, such as resistors or batteries, into their 3D model. When the printer goes to print, it will then pause at these locations so that users can manually insert the electronics. The printer then continues the print unphased.
Besides, it can be called a normal, low-budged 3D printer…
- working area: 10 x 15 x 10 cm
- layer resolution: 0,2 mm
- filament size: 1,75 mm
- conductive trace width: 0,25 mm
- resistivity: 5.00 × 10-7 Ω-m
- silver ink cure time: 5 min.
The first, historic customer of the company was MITRE Corporation – an operator of seven FFRDCs (Federally Funded Research and Development Centers in the USA), which came into contact with it after CES 2015, to manufacture specialistic antennas. The Voxel8 technology was a salvation for the engineers of MITRE, because they were not able to manage with their project.
The next customer on its list is Google ATAP, so the R&D giant of Mountain View. It is still not know, how the Google co-workers will use Voxel8’s devices, but we can guess, that it is connected with the solution called Internet Of Things.
The 3D printer is available in 3 versions – the Developer’s Kit costs 8999 $. You can purchase also:
- the Professional package ($11.999) allows for advanced toolpathing configuration options, more conductive ink and greater customer support,
- the Enterprise package ($16,999) adds a local cloud server and software.
The 3D printer can be ordered at Voxel8’s store.