Apr 27, 2016 | By Alec

Remember BotFactory’s Squink PCB 3D printer? The first of these all-in-one PCB minifactories was shipped just a year ago, but the Brooklyn-based company is already launching an exciting upgrade for all Squink 3D printers (including those previously sold). They have developed an add-on and an accompanying software update that will let users 3D print multi-layered PCBs as well – allowing users to add a whole new level of complexity to their projects.

Things are thus moving very rapidly for the Brooklyn-based startup. They first made headlines back in 2014, when they launched a Kickstarter campaign for their very promising Squink. For those of you who missed it, the Squink is a $3000 desktop Wi-Fi connected PCB 3D printer that takes care of all the messy steps involved in custom PCB making. After uploading your circuit design, the Squink first 3D prints a special conductive ink onto substrate material, followed by conductive glue dots to hold the component pins. In the final step, the machine even picks and places components to build the complete model.

It is thus a truly all-in-one desktop PCB factory, and it is hardly surprising that its developers managed to raise more than $100,000 on Kickstarter. The first Squink was shipped a year ago, and back in October 2015 the first upgrade was already made available: Advanced Ink. With it, users can 3D print both flexible and rigid circuits onto a variety of substrates, greatly increasing the Squink’s potential for lab and educational environments.

This newest release (called the ‘multi-layer package’) is essentially building on those previous successes by adding one option that was conspicuously absent before: 3D printing multi-layer boards. The package consists of a new cartridge of insulating ink and a curing lamp. The ink is 3D printed on top of the circuit and cured with the lamp. Compatible with the Advanced Ink, it essentially allows users to print follow-up layers on top of the insulation layer to add a new level of complexity to any PCB. However, it can also be used to improve 3D printing on materials (such as porous, stretchable materials or textiles) that are not easily compatible with the Advanced Ink. The insulating ink can also be used to protect exposed traces.

What’s more, BotFactory says this new package is also fully supported by standard CAD tools used for PCB boards, like Eagle, Altium and KiCad. GERBER files can be exported as normal, with stacked VIAS used to make connections between the different layers. While BotFactory is initially focusing on two layers, more should also be possible.

As electronics are becoming more complex by the day, multi-layered PCBs are becoming almost impossible for any developer to ignore. With this latest update, BotFactory is thus addressing the needs of users and paving the way for a very wide variety of new DIY devices, including wearables and more complex robotics. Perfect for designers and engineers who want to take their projects to a whole new level.

If you’re interested, the multi-layer package can be preordered starting today, with shipping set to start in late May. The standalone upgrade kit will be made available for $400, while a fully upgraded Squink 3D printer (including both this package and the Advanced Ink set), will be made available for $3500.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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