InnovationLab makes electronics 3D printing breakthrough in ‘SmartEEs2’ EU Horizon 2020 challenge

German electronics 3D printing specialist InnovationLab has provide you with a lower-cost, extra environmentally-friendly method of making Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). 

Developed as a part of the ‘SmartEEs2’ EU Horizon 2020 challenge, the method permits the manufacturing of solderable copper circuits, whereas utilizing much less power than conventional strategies and avoiding the necessity for poisonous etchants. Utilizing the know-how alongside companion ISRA, the agency is now stated to have developed prototype PCBs, which may function a foundation for a brand new era of versatile, wearable electronics. 

“It is a state-of-the-art manufacturing course of, which is able to lower prices and scale back logistical dependencies on suppliers whereas consuming fewer supplies, utilizing much less power and producing much less waste,” stated Dr. Janusz Schinke, Head of Printed Electronics at InnovationLab. “By the tip of this yr, we anticipate to have scaled this course of to excessive volumes, assembly buyer calls for of one million solderable tracks or extra.”

An InnovationLab 3D printed PCB. Picture through InnovationLab.

InnovationLab’s PCB R&D drive 

InnovationLab is a self-proclaimed ‘one-stop store’ for printed electronics, with a community of business and tutorial companions, through which it’s in a position to help clients’ R&D efforts. Alongside this providing, the agency has established a portfolio of versatile printed stress sensors, together with its BaMoS EV battery monitor, and accompanying SensorMatrixLAB software program and TAeTTOOz 3D printing materials

In keeping with InnovationLab, the know-how behind its ‘natural electronics’ reduces the steps behind manufacturing from 9 down to simply two. As such, the method is much less time, price and materials intensive. The corporate additionally says 3D printing opens up a broader materials palette than conventional PCB manufacturing, together with versatile, biodegradable substrates, making it a really perfect foundation for creating novel wearables. 

Elsewhere, by means of its LAB-2-FAB service, InnovationLab presents to assist clients hailing from the buyer, automotive, healthcare industries and extra, convey 3D printed electronics concepts from the design into manufacturing. This providing is bolstered by the agency’s Tech-2-Market consultancy bundle, in addition to its infrastructure plans, during which it hires out its amenities within the Rhine-Neckar area at a flat price. 

Whereas the corporate has historically acted as a facilitator of 3D printing innovation, it has itself now reached out to the SmartEEs2 consortium, to ramp up its PCB R&D, by working with companions such because the CPI, VTT Technical Analysis Centre of Finland, TNO, Fraunhofer FEP, Natural Electronics Saxony, eurecat and CENTI

One of InnovationLab's R&D engineer. Photo via InnovationLab.
One in every of InnovationLab’s R&D engineer. Photograph through InnovationLab.

EU-funded electronics innovation 

During the last two years, the SmartEEs2 program has sought to assist European companies speed up their testing, experimentation and manufacturing of versatile digital gadgets. Made up of 14 companions and coordinated by France’s CEA, the challenge has concerned inviting check proposals from qualifying companies, with these chosen being awarded help and invited to affix its pan-EU analysis community. 

Up to now, working as one of many EU’s Digital Innovation Hubs, the €8 million initiative has targeted on serving to corporations digitize, and enhancing the competitiveness of European corporations growing novel digital gadgets. With the challenge set to finish later this yr, it has focused a complete of 44 software experiments, certainly one of which has reportedly yielded InnovationLab and ISRA’s PCB 3D printing breakthrough.  

In comparison with conventional PCB manufacturing processes, InnovationLab’s is claimed to run at a decrease temperature of round 150ºC, thus making it extra power environment friendly. The multilayer steel and dielectric printing technique additionally includes depositing materials onto a substrate that’s fifteen occasions thinner, enabling customers to scale back their materials consumption and waste. 

Up to now, using this know-how, the agency has managed to create a low-power temperature sensor, NFC communication interface through a printed antenna and a compact solar-powered battery. With the gadgets having reached a goal performance in testing, their builders now say the method behind them has the potential to allow sustainable PCB manufacturing and additional hybrid digital R&D. 

The inside of InnovationLab's R&D facility. Photo via InnovationLab.
The within of InnovationLab’s R&D facility. Photograph through InnovationLab.

3D printing in Versatile Hybrid Electronics  

Though 3D printed PCBs haven’t disrupted the normal electronics market simply but, the know-how continues to be the topic of intense analysis. As just lately as March 2022, NextFlex poured $17 million into electronics 3D printing R&D, with beneficiaries like GE Analysis and Lockheed Martin now utilizing the funding to develop 3D printed radio frequency (RF) and hypersonic flight-related elements.

In additional business functions, Nano Dimension’s DragonFly IV 3D printer continues to supply customers the power to create highly-complex PCBs in a one-step course of. That stated, the system hasn’t actually achieved widespread adoption, and whereas the agency’s income rose from $811,000 to $10.4 million between Q2 2021 and 2022, this was largely as a result of a string of acquisitions it finalized over the past yr. 

Earlier this yr, nScrypt’s analysis arm Sciperio additionally introduced that it had made a doubtlessly important step with its Manufacturing unit in a Device electronics 3D printing system. Sciperio patented an digital 3D printed personalised remedy system, able to sending affected person information to a online game for therapeutic coaching functions.

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Featured picture exhibits an InnovationLab 3D printed PCB. Picture through InnovationLab.