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3D printing electronics: Transforming the electronic industry using additive manufacturing


Speeding up innovation is always easier with the right tools. Additive manufacturing is already revolutionizing various industries from the automotive sector to the medical field, can this technology disrupt the electronic industry? We will see here that 3D printing gives you the flexibility and the speed you need when building new hardware and electronic products. Discover the benefits of 3D printing for electronics!

What are the advantages of 3D printing for electronics?

3D print the perfect prototype

3D printing helps you get from the idea to the product in a matter of days. Thus, 3D printing electronic devices appears to be really interesting. The professional 3D printers used by Sculpteo’s online 3D printing service allow you to create high-quality casings for your devices with the highest level of details. They will perfectly match your electronics components such as a circuit board. Rapid prototyping is also made easy thanks to the 3D printing process and will allow you to build the best product designs.

Launch your first series

Moreover, the electronics industry can truly benefit from additive manufacturing. No stock, no minimum number of units and short turnaround are the key upsides of using Sculpteo’s 3D printing service for your electronic devices, regardless of where they are in product life cycle management. Electronic production is made easy thanks to our 3D printing technology and will improve and simplify your whole supply chain management! 3D printing and electronics are strongly linked. Online 3D printing allows you to create a new kind of relationship with your clients. You can easily produce small series, limited editions and spare parts in a small batch. Whether you’re looking for just a prototype or a thousand units, your 3D printing product will benefit from our experience and know-how to achieve the best quality.

Design freedom

Electronic components production can now be thought in terms of 3D design and not only 2D, with new ways of stacking the circuits. It opens new possibilities to design for electronics, that are new to explore! Customization is becoming a big asset while using additive manufacturing for the creation of your products: you can create parts perfectly adapted to a circuit board or any electronic device. 3D printing can be used to create personalized electronic enclosures, USB stick cases, and keyboards, for example.

Using additive manufacturing also offers you flexibility in the creation of your design. More than a perfectly adapted device, you can also elaborate complex geometries impossible to make with other traditional manufacturing techniques. With 3D printing, you can also make the most of parts that don’t require any assembly process! 

3D printing with electrostatic discharging properties

What is an electrostatic discharge?

What is called “electrostatic discharge” (ESD) is the flow of electricity between two electrically charged parts causes by contact. Static electricity often causes ESD through a process known as tribocharging. This static electricity can arise when surfaces rub together and this results in an excess of electrons on one surface and a deficiency on the other. The ESD occurs when differently-charged objects are brought close together or when the dielectric between them breaks down, often creating a visible spark.  Electrostatic Discharges are a real problem and can damage sensitive electronic components. It can also lead to the alteration of magnetic media and set off fires, explosions in flammable environments! ESD is a big concern for the electronic industry, and being able to manufacture ESD-safe part is a real advantage to avoid any problem.

Focus on: Ultrasint PA 11 ESD

At Sculpteo, we are now offering you the possibility to manufacture your ESD-safe parts. If you are prototyping or producing a project where electrostatic discharging safety is critical, our Ultrasint® PA11 ESD material will be a perfect choice.   Ultrasint® PA11 ESD is a bio-derived material, appearing to be a perfect choicel for increased process safety in advanced applications. With its interesting mechanical properties, this material offers new possibilities for a wide range of new applications, especially for the electronics sector. Indeed, with its low resistivity, Ultrasint® PA11 ESD is reducing the risk of electrostatically induced damage or failures,  the material does not accumulate static electricity and can come in contact with electronic components without running any risk. The surface resistivity of Ultrasint® PA11 ESD is lower than traditional electrostatic dissipating materials. You can now make the most of the advantages of both additive manufacturing and electrostatic discharge properties. For electronic housing, electronic jigs and fixtures, this material is perfectly adapted. PA 11 ESD also as other advantages and interesting mechanical properties such as high tensile strength and elasticity, which could help you create efficient tools. What are you waiting for? With this material, you can create parts combining superior mechanical and thermal characteristics with outstanding electrostatic discharging properties. Get your parts 3D printed with Ultrasint® PA11 ESD by uploading your 3D file on our 3D printing service right now. It will only take a few clicks and you will get an instant quote.

Conductive 3D printing offering new opportunities

3D printing complex electronic components could go even further with conductive 3D printing. The creation of electronic devices with conductive features using 3D printing can particularly be useful to develop IoT (Internet of Things) projects. This innovative technology could allow creating 3D printed devices like LED, or touch sensors. But this ability to 3D print conductive devices could be involved in bigger projects, in soft robotics, 3D electronics, and also for communication devices such as 3D printed Near Field Communication (NFC) antennas.

3D printed electronics: What is possible?

As you will see, this 3D technology can be used for various applications in the electronics industry. Get inspired by these innovative electronic devices made using additive manufacturing!  

3D printed circuit board by Nano Dimension and Harris Corp: 3D Printed Circuit Boards

Nano Dimension is known to work actively on 3D printed electronic devices  The Nano Dimension’s DragonFly™ system is used to 3D print functional electronics prototypes and complex multi-layer Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). But that is not all.

Nano Dimension and Harris Corp partnered to develop 3D printed electronic devices to create a radio frequency (RF) amplifier. They now work to go further and create hardware for the International Space Station. Their goal is to optimize the 3D printing process for RF components for flight studies aboard the ISS. Using additive manufacturing is a solution for them to find new ways to create radio frequency and circuit boards to find new innovative techniques. 

The Simusolar project

At Sculpteo, some of our customers are working on solar energy using 3D printing. On the blog, we already told you about Simusolar, a company created in 2014 and looking to bring solar energy to the rural population of Tanzania. They develop and implement small-scale sustainable solutions to help local people in their everyday life. 

They decided to use 3D printing because they needed a lot of custom made parts, for a low price. Their clients are farmers, fishers, or rural residents looking for various equipment powered by solar energy.

Optomec developing the Aerosol Jet Technology

Optomec announced that their Aerosol Jet Technology will be printing embedded electronics at the micron scale. The innovative process relies on both local deposition and local curing. This way, electronics parts are more affordable and require less waste of materials, and all of this with a superior resolution.

Start 3D printing enclosures!

3D printing enclosures are one of the most common uses of 3D printing for the electronic industry. Solidity, quality, customization, and accuracy, this is what you will make the most of while 3D printing your electronics enclosures. 

If you are interested in 3D printing your own enclosure, you can follow our 3D printed enclosure design guide!

What about the future of 3D printing in the electronics industry?

What if in a few years, we could be able to create fully-functional smartphones or multi-material products using additive manufacturing? If these ideas are still dreams today, the innovations related to conductive 3D printing and electronic devices are now showing new opportunities. It might be time to rethink the way we conceive enclosures, circuit boards, and electronic components. From your prototyping process to the production and the management of your supply-chain, additive manufacturing could help you go through new challenges.

As you can see additive manufacturing has a lot to offer for electronics. It could become quite common to 3D print electrical elements. If you have an electronic project, but you don’t know what software you could use to start it: here is our selection of the best CAD software for electronics. Then, don’t hesitate to try out our online 3D printing service. You will just have to upload your 3D file, we will take care of it and send you your 3D printed objects in a few days.

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