Interactions across the 3D printing value chain from feedstock optimization to equipment and software are all required to optimize the requirements of the multi-material printing process for 3D embedded electronics.
This project seeks to move from point solutions for complex electronic structures to a defined multi-material printed electronics solution that is modeled and characterized, providing the opportunity for an order of magnituge reduction in design-to-build cycle time and cost.
Current additive manufacturing (AM) technology has limitations in optimizing the production of integrated 3D printed electronics and nonplanar structures and components due to fragmented solutions in material, process, and design resulting in limited final product functionality and multi-material usage. Existing AM processes do not have the ability to construct integrated 3D electronics, conformal coatings, and structures during a single build. AM offers the opportunity to advance from 2D-constrained designs to conformal and embedded solutions that maximize functional capability while integrating electronic systems, minimizing footprint and impact on platform design.
The objective of this project is to advance multi-material printing of integrated 3D electronics and nonplanar structures. The goal is to work across the supply chain to characterize and improve performance of an integrated system, instead of individual components, to realize robust multi-material 3D and embedded fabrication processes. The intent is to demonstrate the characterized system and performance improvements by fabricating printed defense and commercial subsystems in a relevant production environment.
This team’s approach is to apply its strength in printed electronics through an integrated system methodology to characterize commercially available inks. This includes: (1) final properties and printability of inks (conductors and dielectrics) for low RF to microwave frequency applications through improved process and process controls; (2) control systems and deposition capabilities for multi-head printers; and (3) design tools to support 3D multi-material configurations. Project output will detail the integrated systems of commercially available materials, printers, control software, and processes, as well as demonstrate techniques by fabricating three subsystems using commercially available materials, equipment, and software, and testing in a relevant production environment.
Other Project Participants
- Univ. of Mass-Lowell
- Univ. of Florida
- GE Global Research Center
- U.S. Department of Defense
- National Science Foundation
- U.S. Department of Energy