Nov 30, 2015 | By Kira

Tel Aviv-based 3D printing company Nano Dimension has been raising the bar in 3D printed electronics systems, having developed the Dragonfly 2020, the first inkjet 3D printer dedicated to printing multi-layer PCBs at home, as well as a range of conductive nano-silver inks capable of producing some of the most advanced 3D printed PCBs the market has ever seen. Now, the company is diving even deeper into the 3D printed electronics market with a proprietary copper ink that offers the groundbreaking ability to 3D print with conductive copper using industrial 3D digital printer machines. Today, the company announced that they have filed a patent application for this copper nanoparticle-based ink with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

While silver has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals and is the most commonly used metal in 3D printed electronics, copper comes in at a very close second in terms of electric conductivity. Its much lower price also gives it a significant market advantage over silver. So why aren’t 3D printed electronics producers already taking advantage of this cheap, highly conductive metal?

Copper’s biggest drawback is the fact that its nanoparticles rapidly oxidize upon contact with air, which impairs its electrical conductivity. In order to confront this issue and make viable 3D printing ink out of copper, Nano Dimension’s patent presents innovative approaches to overcome copper nanoparticle oxidation. Though for obvious reasons the company has not revealed what exactly these “innovative approaches” are, they have said that the copper nano-particle-based ink will provide improved oxidation resistance, allowing industrial 3D printers to manufacture PCBs and other electronic components at a much lower cost.

Image of conductive metal ink made of  copper nanosheets via Kurzweil

"Our conversations with hundreds of companies across different industrial sectors indicate a strong demand for our 3D printed electronics technology. The demand is not limited to prototyping, but also includes industrial scale manufacturing applications,” said Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension, in a statement.

“The current global PCB market is estimated to be larger than USD 70 billion and is expected to reach about USD 100 billion in the coming years,” he continued. “In accordance with our vision that innovative materials are key to advancing additive manufacturing, Nano Dimension engages in research and development to widen the use-cases of its innovative 3D printed electronics technology. A high-performance copper nanoparticle ink presents an opportunity to significantly impact this huge market."

Nano Dimension was recently approved to trade on the OTCQX Market, and just earlier this month announced that it had signed additional investment agreements totaling $2.2 million in a funding round. At this rate, Nano Dimension is opening up many new opportunities in 3D printed electronics systems, which alongside aerospace and medical applications, is no doubt one of the most exciting new areas of advanced 3D printing technology.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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