Jan 5, 2015

Last month, a company called Voxel8 announced that they had secured funding from Braemar Energy Ventures, a leading venture capital investor for the development of the world's first multi-material 3D electronics printer capable of printing embedded electronics and other novel devices.

Based in Somerville, Mass., Voxel8 is a startup company that is bringing novel materials to 3D printing. Founded by Dr. Jennifer A. Lewis, Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Voxel8 is commercializing a new platform for 3D printing including functional materials, printing hardware and intelligent software. The company enables designers and engineers to print embedded conductors, wires, and batteries into the normal matrix materials of 3D printing.

Today the company announced that they will be launching their initial product – the Voxel8 Developer's Kit at 2015 CES this week. The Voxel8 Developer's Kit is now also available for pre-order on its website for $8,999.

Dr. Lewis and her team are building on the foundational patents previously generated at The University of Illinois and Harvard University. The company's printer is just like a MakerBot or any other FDM/FFF 3D printer now on the market.

Voxel8's desktop 3D electronics printer features dual material capabilities by combining a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printhead with a conductive silver ink printhead.

Functional materials are at the heart of Voxel8's core technology. Lewis and her team have created highly conductive inks that can be printed at room temperature and seamlessly integrated with a broad array of matrix materials. According to the company, their silver ink is 20,000x more conductive than the most conductive filled-thermoplastic filaments and more than 5000x more conductive than carbon-based inks (e.g., Bare Conductive).

Printed conductive ink interconnects a TQFP chip package at a 0.8mm pitch sizes without shorting.

Voxel8 inks are specifically formulated for deposition through a 250 micron nozzle. Once applied, they dry quickly at room temperature and they don't require post-processing. These properties allow their conductive inks to be co-printed with traditional thermoplastic materials. 3D electronics printing requires the ability to insert multiple components within a part during the printing process. Voxel8's device has a highly repeatable, magnetically kinematic coupled bed that allows you to take the bed off, insert the components such as an LED or sensor, and then continue printing the part right where it left off.

The potential uses for this technique are broad and include printed electronics, 3D polymer scaffolds for tissue engineering, and advanced materials for energy harvesting and storage.

The Voxel8 Developer's Kit ($8,999) will include

  • Voxel8's 3D Electronics Printer, earliest ship date
  • Access to Autodesk Wire 3D Electronics Software
  • Cloud slicing software and premium support
  • Free shipping worldwide
  • 4 x PLA filament spools, 1kg / spool
  • 10 x conductive ink cartridges, 60m of trace per cartridge
  • 1 x additional print bed
  • Early access to new materials

A limited release of the Developer's Kit will be shipped in late 2015.

"Voxel8 is leveraging over a decade of research, which has led to 17 patents (10 issued) on functional materials, printheads, and other processes for 3D printing, from my lab," said Dr. Lewis, Voxel8 Founder. "Our work provides the foundation for Voxel8's effort to revolutionize multi-material 3D printing. To realize our vision, we have recruited a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in the advanced materials, precision hardware, intelligent software and design."

Additionally, Voxel8 also announced its partnership with Autodesk to develop a new design tool called Project Wire for creating 3D electronic devices printed on Voxel8's platform. Together, Voxel8 and Autodesk are enabling designers and engineers to create three-dimensional parts with embedded circuitry for the first time.

"We are excited to work with companies like Voxel8, because they are really pushing the boundaries of what 3D printing is capable of, and by incorporating conductive inks directly into 3D printing process, we can start to create things that have function after they are printed," said Jeff Kowalski, CTO of Autodesk.

Voxel8 will be at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, booth 71726 in the Sands Exposition Hall from January 6-9, 2015.

Printer Specs:

  • Printing Technology: FFF, Pneumatic Direct Write
  • Build Volume: 4"x6"x4"(10X15x10cm)
  • Layer Resolution: 200 microns
  • Filament Size: 1.75mm
  • Pause / Resume Prints: Yes
  • Bed: Kinematically Coupled
  • Conductive Trace Width: 250 microns
  • Supported Files: STL, PLY, OBJ, OFF, AMF
  • Connectivity: USB, WiFi
  • Supported Browsers : Chrome, Firefox
  • Materials: PLA, Conductive Silver Ink
  • Resistivity: 5.00 × 10-7 Ω-m
  • Silver Ink Cure Time: 5 minutes


Posted in 3D Printers


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