3D printing has created a new dimension in every industry possible, it feels like a different world altogether and each day feels like Christmas, something new and exciting is happening on a day to day basis. A small start up copany was formed 1.5 years ago, Voxel8 - which unveiled its multimaterial electronics 3D printer to the world at CES 2015. It amazed everyone when it 3D printed a small quadcopter, they paused the print midway and inserted some electronic components and resumed the printing and produced something that could fly as soon as it was 3D printed. After a long wait Voxel8 has finally started shipping to consumers, the very first being Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP).
Jennifer Lewis, who developed the Voxel8 platform at a lab in Harvard. A pneumatic pump was addded to a traditional 3D printer now this 3D printer is capable of printing viscous materials like silver nanoparticle inks. This Developer’s Kit can 3D print PLA material with conductive traces.
The Developer's Kit 3D Printer is available in 3 variants, Standard, Professional and Enterprise costing at $8,999, 11,999 and 16,999 respectively.
The Voxel8 uses Autodesk's Project Wire software tool, which enables users to draw their circuitry and design specific components, such as resistors or batteries, into their 3D model. When the printer goes to print, it will then pause at these locations so that users can manually insert the electronics. The printer then continues the print unphased.
The Voxel8 printer allows the creation of complex geometries with its built-in conductive traces which makes Google ATAP is an ideal customer for the Developer’s Kit. Google's R&D has kept it a secret on the actual use of the Voxel8 3D Printer - speculations confirm that the team may use the 3D Printer for prototyping hardware components, which may open new ways of embedding sensors into multiple devices. Could they be using it for the newer Modular Phone's which is code named project Ara ? We do not know, but we guess it’s a 3D printer perfectly suited for the purpose.
Voxel8 is also involved in a government funded project to 3D Print antenna arrays. This technology might be able to 3D print complex antennas and produce a more compact antenna than the one's produced by traditional technologies.