Aug 12, 2016 | By Andre

It’s hard to deny that the average consumer aims for both a less expensive product and at the same time a better one. While this may seem like having one's cake and eating it too, it is up to researchers around the world to constantly figure out a way to make this possible.

With smartphones, tablets, solar cells and LED lights already well into the mainstream and not going away any time fast, doing the above in these sectors in increasingly important to keep that competitive edge.

It seems as though researchers at RMIT and CSIRO are hoping to do just that using a method of light based printing of electrical components with the help of both an inkjet and 3D printer. The end goal of their efforts is to quickly and cheaply manufacture circuitry by first drawing the electric circuit using a uniquely formulated ink, the printer and a very powerful camera flash.

Once the flash hits the printed electronic strip, the chemical and physical properties of the material that has been printed instantly transforms from an electrically insulating to electrically conductive material.

 

So far, the process involves embedding onto a flexible, foldable material with possible aims of entering into the wearables market. An example of the potential is of a solar cell that can be used on your backpack or laptop while walking around without the worry of relying on traditionally rigid circuitry.

So while it seems Enrico Della Gaspera, the brains behind the research, has come up with a novel way of manufacturing state of the art circuitry, he’s also managed to do it on the cheap. Since the developed method doesn’t require high temperatures traditionally seen in the manufacture of electronics and he's using lower cost materials and less electricity intense production environments, more can be done with less.

Beyond that, for the average consumer, the flexible and low cost 3D printing approach to the manufacture of circuitry may also advance the spread of modern technology in the under developed regions of the world. Low-cost solar energy in parts of the world where most technology is economically out of reach for those that really need it the most might spread thanks to innovations like this.

Enrico depositing thin coatings.

Enrico, Enrico Della Gaspera has been researching the fabrication of low-cost solar cell fabrication for quite some time now so its no surprise that he presented his research at Fresh Science, an Australian national program that demonstrates important news of discovery in the world of academia.

While its not completely clear what method of 3D printing might be used to deposit the ink, anything from polyjet to even FDM technology might be suitable for laying down the specialty material. What is known is that time and time again the big ticket items that we’ve all come to love started out under the watchful eye of a curious researcher and his or her lab coat.

Images & video credit: Credit: Fresh Science

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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