Oct. 24, 2014

Currently available 3D printers are typically limited to the printing of plastic and metal items in just one or two materials. But FlexTech Alliance, headquartered in San Jose, California, is devoted to fostering the growth, profitability and success of the flexible and printed electronics supply chain. FlexTech has announced the awarding of $1,291,000 to nScrypt and NovaCentrix to develop a next-generation 3D printing system for creating complex and functional objects.

This new system will be able to additively build integrated hybrid circuits on 3D surfaces, as well as devices on flexible, low temperature, and rigid planar substrates. The tool will seamlessly integrate multiple existing tools into one complimentary system. The device will have 5 heads including 1 pick and place unit, 3 micro-dispensing pump heads, 1 fused deposition head, and 1 photonic curing unit. The system will be able to print, switch dispensing materials, and cure, all at speeds beyond today's fastest rates and without changing inks.

NovaCentrix, based in Austin, Texas, is a leader in printed electronics manufacturing technologies. Its state-of-the-art PulseForge photonic curing tools dry, sinter, and anneal functional inks in milliseconds on low-temperature, flexible substrates such as paper and plastic. nScrypt is an advanced technology company focused on micro-dispensing a wide range of materials for electronic packaging and 3D printing. The Orlando, Florida based company sells micro-dispensing systems ready for microelectronics, biomedical and tissue engineering applications.

"The teaming of nScrypt and NovaCentrix on this project is optimal for a successful outcome," notes Michael Ciesinski, president and CEO of FlexTech Alliance. "nScrypt has already created some of the most advanced 3D printing tools, while NovaCentrix is consistently introducing tools which are enabling the printed electronics revolution."

Kenneth Church, CEO of nScrypt, said: "At nScrypt, we know that 3D printing is a truly disruptive technology and, even though initially expensive and challenging, the promise of flexibility and cost savings will drive adoption. FlexTech funding allows nScrypt, where we have been working on digital printing for more than 15 years, and NovaCentrix to combine our expertise and demonstrate why 3D digital printing is a game-changing manufacturing process."

"This ground-breaking integrated unit is the next step in what we see as the inevitable convergence of printed electronics and 3D fabrication. The portfolio of materials able to be used in 3D fabrication will expand dramatically, and active electronics can be designed into structures in ways never-before possible," said Stan Farnsworth, vice president of marketing at NovaCentrix. "We laud FlexTech for the vision and organizational efforts in bringing this project to fruition, and the team at nScrypt for their engineering capability and deposition expertise."

This system will be the first commercially available 3D additive manufacturing system capable of constructing functional monolithic 3D devices, giving engineers and designers the ability to 3D print electronic sub-components and devices such as antennae, touch sensors, or circuits for cell phones, and other molded parts made from limited thermal stability plastics parts.

FlexTech partners with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which has a keen interest in 3D printing for rapid prototyping of new electronic devices and components. This is the beginning of small lot manufacturing, but this is also the first tool that will easily transition to multi-nozzle systems for high volume mass customization and cyberfacturing.

Watch the video below the nScrypt 3Dn-600HPx, an integrated trace-printing, plastic-printing, UV/laser curing, pick and place 3D electronics printing machine in action:


Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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