Jun 1, 2016 | By Benedict

Voxel8, the 3D printing enterprise spearheaded by Harvard professor Jennifer A. Lewis, has started shipping its Developer’s Kit 3D printer, with Google ATAP set to be one of the first recipients. The modular 3D printer is, for a limited time only, still available at the pre-order price of $8,999.

When Voxel8 first announced its Developer’s Kit 3D printer back in 2015, the 3D printing community got pretty excited: here was a desktop FFF 3D printer which could print embedded electronics at room temperature, housed in an ultra-stylish shell, available for under $10K. And on top of all that, the machine had been developed by Prof. Jennifer A. Lewis, a Harvard engineer and one of the most important women in 3D printing.

The Developer’s Kit 3D printer was shown to an enthusiastic crowd at CES 2015, who witnessed the 3D printer making electronic devices by “co-printing” thermoplastics and highly conductive silver ink—a process which allows the printer to embed conductors, wires, and batteries directly into its 3D printed components. Voxel8 then began taking preorders for the 3D printer, prompting swathes of individuals and companies—including Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP)—to enthusiastically sign up for the Voxel8 experience.

Many industry experts have earmarked embedded electronics as important future application of 3D printing, with Israel-based 3D printing company Nano Dimension seemingly leading the way in the emerging field of 3D printed circuit boards. The Voxel8 Developer’s Kit 3D printer, however, offers users something pretty unusual: an affordable, highly usable FFF 3D printer equipped with an auto-leveling build plate, automatic printhead calibration, and the ability to print functional materials.

To make the creation of 3D printed electronic components as simple as possible, Voxel8 teamed up with Autodesk to create a simple yet powerful software package for the Developer’s Kit 3D printer. The Project Wire software tool, which can be run in Google Chrome or Firefox, allows users to simply import existing CAD models, then add electronic components and wires in 3D. Wires can be drawn either through or on top of 3D models, while the software ensures that traces are accurately aligned between layers for optimal conductivity.

Everything about the Voxel8 3D printer has been optimized for creating usable electronic devices. Although some simple components can be created in a single print, the Developer’s Kit printer is also designed to enable easy stop/start printing, enabling external parts to be incorporated into a printed component mid-way through a print. A highly repeatable, kinematic coupling allows users to remove the build plate, insert extra components, then resume printing.

In contrast with its high-tech product, Voxel8 has managed to maintain an almost homely feel to its entire 3D printing enterprise. All Developer’s Kit 3D printers have been assembled at Voxel8’s Somerville, Massachusetts production facility, where each 3D printer will be packed and sent directly to customers. The video below gives a sneak peek into the company’s manufacturing line, where the 3D printer is turned from its constituent parts—many of which were sourced and assembled locally—into its glorious whole.

As the 3D printers begin their shipping journey to customers, many users will soon be reaping the rewards afforded by the versatile machine. A handful of customers, however, have already had a chance to put the printer to use. RightHand Labs, a company which specializes in making robotic grippers, has been using the Developer’s Kit to create a testing system for its robotic fingers, so that the company knows whether each finger is functioning correctly.

Since the manufacturer who produces RightHand Lab’s robotic fingers sends each digit back with loose wires, the startup needed a reliable means of attaching them to a test circuit to make sure they’re working correctly. By using the Voxel8 3D printer, RightHand Labs was able to quickly make an electronics circuit which can electronically and mechanically connect the series of wires to a microcontroller board. An embedded LED then lights up if the test has been successful. “Voxel8’s printing technology has enabled us to rapidly build reliable electro-mechanical test fixtures for our research products,” the company commented.

Customers who pre-ordered the Voxel8 Developer’s Kit 3D printer will receive an email update shortly with an estimated ship date. The machine is, for a limited time still available from $8,999, with Standard, Professional, and Enterprise editions available depending on support requirements.

Voxel8 Developer’s Kit 3D printer technical specs:

  • Technology: FFF
  • Build volume: 150 x 150 x 100 mm
  • Layer resolution: 200 microns
  • Filament: 1.75 mm
  • Conductive trace width: 250 microns
  • Supported files: STL
  • Connectivity: WiFi, ethernet
  • Materias: PLA, conductive silver ink
  • Resistivity: 5.00 × 10-7 Ω-m
  • Cure time: 5 minutes
  • Display: 5” color touch screen



Posted in 3D Printer



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Wes wrote at 12/22/2017 5:39:00 PM:

Can you blend various grades of PPSU?

Kittamet Pradiarcheep wrote at 10/20/2017 11:29:32 AM:

To whom it may concern My name is Kittamet Pradidarcheep. I am a graduate student at Shibaura Institute of Technology. I am writing this to you on behalf of Maeda Laboratory,Department of Mechanical Engineering. Since we are looking for this 3D printer to be installed in laboratory. So I would like to ask you for details about this machine because we have to use this machine to conduct the student research. I would appreciate and thank you in advance. We are looking to hearing from you. Yours sincerely, Kittamet Pradidarcheep Email: md17501@shibaura-it.ac.jp

dclunie wrote at 6/2/2016 2:01:03 PM:

8k? pass. you can do the same with a rep rap or other multi head extruders for about 1/4 the price or less.

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