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3D printing refers to the physical construction of an object from a digital description through the selective deposition of material. Today’s 3D printers have many limitations, but the boundaries are being pushed and exciting developments are continuously being made. One of the most promising recent developments in the world of 3D printing is multimaterial printing, not least because it is the key to the emergence of 3D printed electronics. Today’s commercially available multimaterial 3D printers are limited to providing a variety of mechanical characteristics such as rigidity as well as color and transparency, but the seemingly simple inclusion of UV curable conductive inks could make these machines capable of manufacturing objects that contain conductive traces.
This is naturally regarded by many as a direct alternative to traditional PCB manufacture and, in many respects, not a very good one. The logical application for 3D PCBs plays to the traditional strengths of 3D printing: rapid prototyping. However, the ability to lay down conductive traces inside a 3D object has far more potential. There is no longer any requirement to use flat designs. The added design freedom has the potential to greatly simplify circuit layout but will require a new generation of software tools. Furthermore, the natural evolution of this design freedom is the ability to embed electronics in the structure of anything. This is known as structural electronics.
Structural electronics is one of the most important technological developments of this century. It forms a key part of the dream, first formulated 30 years ago, of computing disappearing into the fabric of society. It also addresses, in a particularly elegant manner, the dream of Edison in 1880 that electricity should be made where it is needed. Structural electronics is often biomimetic—it usefully imitates nature in ways not previously feasible.
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Zac Elliott, Siemens Digital Industries Software
Let’s face it, in the past, electronics manufacturing has not been a big business for North America. A majority of electronics are assembled in Asia where supply chains and operating costs offer many economic advantages. In North America, the electronics manufacturing industry has been generally focused on lower volume, high-cost devices, while higher volume products are produced elsewhere. However, the COVID pandemic and various legislation in the U.S. are changing the situation, making electronics manufacturing in North America a more attractive option. How can factories in North America compete for the same type of manufacturing traditionally performed in lower-cost regions?
Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
The Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award is given to individuals who have fostered a collaborative spirit, made significant contributions to standards development, and have consistently demonstrated a commitment to global standardization efforts and the electronics industry. José Servin has worked as an IPC member for more than 14 years in the development of the Electronics Assembly Norms. As a member of the IPC A-610 and J STD-001 working groups, he became chairman of IPC A-610G and J STD-001G Automotive Addendums that complements the norms for automotive industry since 2018.
Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
Doug Pauls holds a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He worked nine years for the Navy, eight years as technical director of Contamination Studies Labs, and 19 years at Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace), in the Advanced Operations Engineering group, where he is a principal materials and process engineer. Doug was awarded the Rockwell Collins Arthur A. Collins Engineer of the Year Award in 2004.